The Panthers looked to have everything they needed for an easy win against the 3–6 Wake Forest Demon Deacons. This however would not be the case and the Panthers would lose a nail biter, 76-75.
This game was a back-and-forth game that came down to the final possession by Pitt. With 5.3 seconds left to play in the second half, the Panthers had the opportunity to win the game. However, Xavier Johnson missed a final jump shot as time expired. This loss brings the Panthers’ record to 8-3 (4–2 ACC) and gave the Demon Deacons their first win in the ACC this season.
Justin Champagnie proved once again why he is making a name for himself as the possible ACC Player of the Year. Champagnie led the Panthers in points (17), rebounds (8), and steals (5). Xavier Johnson was another standout for the Panthers scoring 14 points and assisting on eight baskets. Abdoul Karim Coulibaly scored 15 points and collected four assists as well.
The story of the game, though, was Wake Forest shooting extremely well from long distance. The Demon Deacons knocked down 15 of their 32 three-point shots (47%). They actually shot slightly better from three-point range than they did from the field. Champagnie had another big game but Wake Forest’s Ismael Massoud was the Player of the Game in this one, scoring 31 points while knocking down 8-10 from three-point range.
While this was not the way Jeff Capel could have wanted this game to go there is still a plus side to this loss. The Panthers played a highly competitive game and only lost on the final possession, despite the Demon Deacons being so effective from long range. This loss drops the Panthers to sixth in the ACC with a 4 – 2 record in the Conference with ten games left to play in the season.
The chances of the Panthers having an option to win the ACC at this point is unlikely, but this has the look of the best team Pitt since Jamie Dixon’s final season as head coach. The Panthers still have a chance to make the NCAA tournament if they can keep this type of competitive play going. Pitt took the loss tonight but still has a chance for several resume-boosting wins the rest of the way.
The Panthers’ next game is against 10–5 UNC on Tuesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. on the ACC Network.