PITTSBURGH- On the back of a program record 18 three pointers, including an individual record-tying eight from Blake Hinson, the Pittsburgh Panthers bested the Wake Forest Demon Deacons by a score of 81-79. It would come down to the final shot of the contest, a missed three at the buzzer by Wake Forest’s Tyree Appleby, before Pitt could safely chalk up their seventh ACC win on the year, moving their overall record to 14-7, 7-3 in conference. It was as much of a “must-win” game as a team could have in the midst of January, and the Panthers delivered. Fresh off a disappointing loss to the Q4 dwelling Florida State Seminoles, and ahead of tough matchups with Miami and UNC, another quality ACC win was a necessity.
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS WIN:
With this win, the Panthers can add another Q2 win to bolster their tournament resume. Against Q1-Q2 opponents Pitt is 6-6, with an 8-1 record against Q3-Q4 teams (that Florida St. loss sticks out like a sore thumb). The Panthers occupy one of the “last four byes” spots in most of this weeks’ bracket predictions, and a win against a quality Wake Forest team may further the Panthers’ cause to not only make their first tournament since 2016, but also avoid a date in Dayton for the First Four.
HOW PITT WON:
With the Panthers first 18 points coming from beyond the arc, the story of the game was a remarkable team effort from deep. The Panthers made 18 on 37 attempts, good for an outlandish 49% rate.
Hot start from three— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) January 26, 2023
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Pitt was led in scoring by Blake Hinson (24 PTS) and Greg Elliott (18), both of whom only took threes all night long (a combined 14-23). Pitt fans should be happy to see Hinson bounce back in back to back games (16 against FSU) after a stretch of uncharacteristic offensive performances from one of the teams’ premier offensive options.
As most buckets came off of the three, assists were plentiful for the Panthers too. Jamarius Burton took a step back on the scoring front to lead Pitt in assists, finishing with nine on the night. The Panthers nearly doubled up the Demon Deacons on assists, leading by a margin of 22-13.
Wake Forest took advantage of a size advantage in the front-court. They killed the Panthers down low to the tune of 34 points in the paint. The issue? The size that was so effective on the offensive end couldn’t stretch enough to force the Panthers to get uncomfortable taking threes.
Turnovers were a moderate issue for the Panthers, as they finished the game with 11. The 11th looked to be the most costly— with Pitt holding the ball with just over 30 seconds remaining they found themselves unable to generate any shot opportunity, turning over the ball on a shot clock violation. Wake Forest had the ball down two, with just six seconds left an an opportunity to shatter the hearts of the Panther faithful. Appleby’s miss would end the threat, and Wake Forest was sent back to Winston-Salem with a loss in hand.
Pitt faces ACC-leaders and 20th-ranked Miami this Saturday at 4 PM with the chance to secure a Q1 win.