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Ryan Murphy resurgent in last three games for Pitt

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The Panthers sharpshooter rediscovered his shot in late December

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After a hot start to his tenure in Pittsburgh, Panthers guard Ryan Murphy struggled with his shot for the majority of Pitt’s non-conference slate. But over the last three games, the former JUCO star has rediscovered his stroke, once again becoming a reliable shooter for Pitt.

Murphy went cold from beyond the arc from Nov. 15 to Dec. 16. In that eight-game span, he made just eight out of 40 three-point shots. But since Dec. 20, when Pitt beat Binghamton 79-53, Murphy has gone 11-of-20 from distance, improving his three-point shooting percentage from 20 percent over the eight-game slump to 55 percent in Pitt’s last three matchups.

Although his shooting uptick began on Dec. 20, Murphy credited his return to form to practicing at home over the Christmas break.

”I read some stuff on Twitter, and it was saying basically I couldn’t shoot,” Murphy said after Pitt's 69-65 loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. “So I went home and went to the gym by my house, and it felt good. I know I can shoot the ball really well, and guys do a good job at finding me when I’m open. So I feel like I got going, and it felt like it was back. I felt like that against Canisius, too. The jump shot is back. I got back to the basics and worked on it.”

With his recent resurgence factored in, Murphy’s three-point percentage for the season sits at 35.4 percent, as he has shot 28-of-79 from beyond the arc. That’s down from the 2017-18 season, when he shot 40.0 percent on 32-of-80 shooting for Charlotte. However, it’s an improvement on his performance at New Mexico Junior College last season, when he went 28-for-100 from distance.

At the moment, it appears Murphy is back, and his timing could not have been better, as Pitt is finished with its non-conference schedule and moving onto a series of ACC opponents. However, the question now — given Murphy’s lengthy slump — is whether he will perform consistently moving forward or struggle to get his shots to fall for another extended period.

With seven more ACC matchups scheduled for January, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel should have an answer to that question soon, and the answer will likely have significant bearing on how the Panthers fare in conference play.