Pitt continued its hot shooting in a dominant 89-59 win over Northern Illinois.
The game was only announced this week and was a last-minute one, helping to fill a large scheduling gap for the Panthers (2-1). While it benefited Pitt in that regard, Northern Illinois (0-3) didn’t have an ideal trip, only getting into Pittsburgh today. And as if that wasn’t enough, Northern Illinois was also missing its leading scorer, Tyler Cochran (supposedly due to contact tracing, according to this tweet).
The Panthers were a bit more comfortable, getting the game at home, and it showed. Pitt again shot well, knocking down 50% of their shots. That included the Panthers shooting an unreal 48% from three-point range. Defensively, Pitt was stout and forced 17 turnovers.
For Pitt, it was a four-man show with Justin Champagnie, Xavier Johnson, Ithiel Horton, and Au’Diese Toney scoring at least 15 points are more. All shot well from the field with Champagnie leading the way with 22 points while adding ten rebounds. Johnson, who is leading the ACC in assists, had seven of those tonight against no turnovers. Just a stellar game all around to with his 15 points.
Pitt’s looked pretty good in the past two games. The last two opponents haven’t been tough but at least they’ve won those games, unlike the opener when the Panthers were soundly defeated by St. Francis. As the opponents get better, obviously, the offense will have a more difficult time. The hope is, though, that the players gain a bit of confidence and begin to gel a bit more.
The competition wasn’t great but for a team like Pitt that needs all the wins they can get, finding a way to squeeze this one into the schedule was a bonus. And since it got out of hand so quickly, the Panthers found plenty of time for their young reserves to get playing time.
All told, they got everything they could have hoped for out of this game. Next up is the ACC-B1G Challenge game against Northwestern on Wednesday night.
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