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Ithiel Horton returns to form to lead Pitt past Miami

The Pitt guard went off for 18 second-half points, going 4-for-5 on threes

Pittsburgh v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Pitt shooting guard Ithiel Horton came into his team’s Wednesday night matchup with Miami on a cold streak, as he had gone 0-for-8 on three-point shots over his last two games. And after an unproductive first half in which he scored zero points on 0-for-3 shooting from the field, it seemed he was in the midst of another down night. But that wasn’t the case.

Instead, Horton came alive in the second half and looked like the sharpshooter who sunk five threes against Northern Illinois earlier this month. And to the Delaware transfer’s credit, he made up for lost time and posted a team-high 18 points in a matter of 20 minutes. He did so by going 4-for-5 on second-half threes, 2-for-3 on close-range shots and 2-for-2 on his first two free throws as a Pittsburgh Panther. And for good measure, Horton added two assists, two rebounds and one steal.

After the game, Horton discussed his early-season struggles and frustration.

“You’re on the big stage. You’ve got family back home watching you, friends back home watching you. Hell yeah, it’s frustrating. But as long as I’m still alive, I’m going to still keep fighting. I ain’t arrived yet. I just started.”

Much was expected of Horton heading into the 2020-21 season, as Pitt coach Jeff Capel heaped praise on him earlier this year, describing him as “as good as anybody on our team.” But in addition to the cold streak that saw him score just two points against Gardner-Webb and none against Northwestern, Horton was also troubled by St. Francis and Drexel, scoring five points in each of those games. As a result, there was concern about Horton and his ability to successfully transition to basketball at the major-conference level.

Whether Horton will be able to stitch together consecutive games of this caliber remains to be seen, and consistency will be key as Pitt wades deeper into ACC play. But after his performance in Coral Gables, Horton should be feeling more confident as the Panthers advance through their ACC schedule, and that could benefit Pitt greatly.