Pitt faced Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee on Wednesday night hoping to pull out of a four-game skid, and the Panthers got their wish, as they narrowly defeated the Seminoles 56-51.
Neither team got off to a particularly great start offensively, as points were at a premium for both the Panthers and the Seminoles early in the game. However, in an unusual turn of events, Pitt did not allow its limited offensive production to seal its fate before the halftime buzzer. In fact, after Florida State gained a 2-0 lead on a Matthew Cleveland layup that opened the scoring, Ithiel Horton knocked down a three-pointer to put Pitt up 3-2, and the Panthers would not allow the Seminoles to regain the lead for the rest of the half.
With that said, there was little scoring to speak of in the first half, as Pitt held a narrow 21-20 lead after the first 20 minutes of play. But what transpired was promising for Pitt, as the team saw all five of its starters put points on the board in the opening frame, while Florida State got contributions from just three of its starters. In addition, every time the Seminoles evened the score, the Panthers responded by retaking the lead and appeared up to the task of besting a team that had troubled them in the past.
Horton emerged as a leader for Pitt early in the game, and at the halftime break, he was tied with Caleb Mills for the lead in points, with eight. However, Horton’s performance reached new heights in the second half, as he teed off from beyond the arc, knocking down shot after shot to preserve the Panthers’ lead and help them pull away from the Seminoles. And by the midway point of the second half, Horton had made five three-pointers in 10 minutes, and Pitt led Florida State by a score of 39-34.
The pace would slow down after Horton’s outburst early in the second half, and Florida State would creep back into the game with Pitt no longer scoring at a relentless clip. With five minutes left in the game, the score would be tied 41-41, but Pitt would regain the lead on a Jamarius Burton jumper. Moments later, Burton would pad Pitt’s lead with a three-point shot to make it 46-41. He would score again with under two minutes left to make it 48-43, and with 34 seconds left, Burton would knock down a clutch jumper to make it 51-46. In the end, Pitt would defeat Florida State 56-51.
Ithiel Horton led all scorers, with 25 points in the game to go with five rebounds. The only other Pitt player with a double-figure point total was Jamarius Burton, who had 13 points, with 11 of those points coming in the final five minutes of the game. The team also got a solid performance out of Mouhamadou Gueye, who scored just six points but also had six rebounds and an impressive eight blocks.
With the win, Pitt improved to 9-16 overall and 4-10 in ACC play. Meanwhile, Florida State fell to 13-10 on the season and 6-7 in conference competition. The victory also snapped a 12-game losing streak for the Panthers in ACC road games that stretched back more than a year. Now, Pitt will head back north to prepare for a matchup with NC State on Saturday.