Pitt lost to NC State in characteristically agonizing fashion on Wednesday evening, but one positive in the 74-73 defeat was the performance of Justin Champagnie. The star sophomore posted game-high totals in points and rebounds, with 18 and 10, respectively, and hit a milestone, as the double-double that he posted was his 10th of the season.
The game marked the ninth time the Brooklyn native led Pitt in points and the 13th time he led Pitt in rebounds in 17 games this season. It was also the sixth time he posted a game-high point total this season as well as the ninth time his rebound total led all participants.
Still, the game was by no means an uplifting experience for anyone donning blue and gold on Wednesday, and even Champagnie’s performance included a few unfortunate lowlights. Most notably, the Pitt star went 1-for-5 on three-point attempts, and the misses proved costly in a game decided by one point. But no miss hurt more than the one that came on his final attempt of the night, a turnaround jumper hastily tossed up for an airball just before the last seconds ticked away.
With that said, the blame for Wednesday’s loss does not fall on Champagnie, as his efforts kept Pitt alive despite costly technical fouls from Xavier Johnson and Femi Odukale that gave the Wolfpack five points and the opportunity for more. In addition, the team turned the ball over 14 times, and Au’Diese Toney disappeared in the second half, scoring just three points after a promising start.
Fifteen games into his sophomore season, Champagnie leads Pitt and the ACC in points and rebounds per game, with 18.7 and 11.5, respectively. He also ranks second in the nation among major-conference players in double-doubles. Only Illinois center Kofi Cockburn has more, with 15 in 20 games.
As a result, Champagnie's name has appeared in multiple mock drafts, and it has come up in the conversation for ACC Player of the Year honors. He has also been placed on the watch lists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honor as well as the Wooden Award, and it appears that buzz will continue to surround him as his play has been consistently outstanding despite Pitt’s struggles.