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Panthers drop season finale to Tigers, 77-62

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NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers had no shortage of fight in them against the Clemson Tigers. But that intensity couldn’t last through the whole game as the Pitt men’s basketball team lost its regular season finale, 77–62, to the Tigers.

The game started off slow for the Panthers (10-11) as they were down by as much as 16 in the first half. Pitt was able to claw its way back into the game and trailing only 38-36 at halftime. However, the game fell apart for the Panthers in the second half as the Tigers (16-6) ran away with the game and never looked back.

Even with Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson in the transfer portal, Pitt was able to hang in this game for a while. And if you look at Pitt’s end of the box score, you might be surprised that they lost by 15 points. They shot over 44% from the field but made 9-18 shots from three-point range. They also shot 77% from the free throw line and played Clemson to a virtual tie in rebounds (Clemson held a 26-25 advantage). But Pitt’s problem was that the Tigers were red hot from the field, connecting on 56% of their field goals and making 12 three-pointers on 25 attempts. Defensively is where the Panthers struggled on Saturday.

Justin Champagnie had a modest game with 13 points and four rebounds. Champagnie has scored double digits points in every game this season and is rightfully a finalist for ACC Player of the Year. But today, the Panthers couldn’t keep up with Clemson’s offensive firepower. Guard Al-Amir Dawes led all scorers with 21 and forward Hunter Tyson added 16 — both players came off the bench for Clemson. That pair was on fire from beyond the arc, making seven of their 11 shots from downtown.

Ithiel Horton again came off the bench for Pitt and had 11 points as the only other player in double figures while Femi Odukale had nine. Terrell Brown led the Panthers in rebounds with five, and Odukale led them with three assists. Interestingly, walk-on Onyebuchi Ezeakudo earned a start for Pitt today. He finished with three points and two assists, making his only shot (a three-pointer).

Next up, Pitt will face Miami in the ACC Tournament on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.