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Weather the Hurricane: Pitt defeats #20 Miami 71-68

You call that a Hurricane? That was at best a tropical storm

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH- Despite trailing by double digits near the midway point through the second half, the Pittsburgh Panthers once more conjured up a streak of magic, beating the #20 Miami Hurricanes by a score of 71-68. We’re running out of original ways to say “The Panthers came back and won” here at Cardiac Hill, but each time it truly is more beautiful to witness than the last. In front of the first announced sell-out crowd since a visit from Zion Williamson during his Duke days, the Panthers made an improbable turnaround on the back of a monster performance from Jamarius Burton (19 PTS, 10 REB, 7 AST) as well as Blake Hinson (21 PTS, 8 REB). With this win, the Panthers move to 15-7 (8-3 ACC) and take a large step towards their first appearance in March Madness since 2016.


After both teams combined for an 0-7 start through the first two minutes of the game, Pitt generated energy and offense quickly. The Panthers would score the first six of the night before Miami could get on the board. Blake Hinson opened the contest, following his own missed layup attempt and ripping the ball from a Miami defender. He put up a tough layup through contact, earning an and-one that got the crowd into it early. Federiko Federiko capitalized on that energy with a massive block at the rim on Miami G Woooga Poplar.

As both teams settled into the contest it became a game defined by ball movement and points in the paint. With Pitt unable to generate anything from beyond the arc, going 2-8 from three, Miami pulled away after the under-eight media timeout. The 20th-ranked Canes opened up a double-digit lead on the back of a 15-2 run spurred by Pitt’s inability to take care of the ball (seven first-half turnovers) in conjunction with Miami getting hot from the field.

The Hurricanes were led in scoring by Jordan Miller with 14 in the half on 6-7 shooting with the Panthers seemingly unable to come up with an answer for the Miami guard as he dominated the paint. It was a strong point for Miami as a team too, scoring 22 points in the paint to Pitt’s 12.

The Panthers were led in scoring by Jamarius Burton with 8 points on 3-9 shooting. As a team Pitt was a lowly 10-32 (31%) from the field, never seeming comfortable on the offensive end after the first five or so minutes.

With the half coming to a close, the Panthers brought themselves back into the contest, cutting an 11-point deficit into a much more manageable five-point game at the break, aided in part by a Blake Hinson buzzer-beating three.


Miami came out of the gates with the hot hand, starting the half with an 8-2 run. Nelly Cummings appeared to feel personally victimized by this run, dropping seven points of his own in response in the span of a few possessions after being held scoreless in the first half.

Pitt finally seemed to establish an identity on the offensive end midway through the second half, but as they did the Canes once more got hot, going 4-5 on their first five three-point attempts.

With Pitt needing someone to step up and kickstart a run, Jamarius Burton once more answered the call in a moment of Panther need. Burton hit an open three and followed it up next possession with an inspired drive to the basket the next.

Coming out of the under-eight timeout Pitt was looking at a 50-57 deficit that was made reduced to a four-point differential following a Greg Elliott three. With the crowd brought to life the Panthers and Hurricanes traded basket for basket with Miami’s lead slowly being chipped away.

Miami opened the lead up to as many as eight within the last three minutes, but the Panthers refused to go away. A dunk from Federiko Federiko and a corner three that upon release felt like a deeply ill-advised shot from Blake Hinson found all net, and for what feels like the 20th time this year, the Panthers found themselves in a one-possession game with less than a minute to go.

Following a Burton miss Blake Hinson’s hand found the ball amidst a scrum of players right underneath the basket for a tip-in that gave Pitt their first lead since 15-14 with 8:50 left in the first half. The Panthers, once down 68-60 with just 2:26 to go, had willed themselves in front with half a minute on the clock.

It was a sight all too familiar, representative of a Panther team that, more than individual skill, prides itself on chemistry and unity amongst a group of players that have all known one another for less than a year. Back from the brink, this unlikely group of Pittsburgh heroes forced a turnover and sealed a massive win with two Greg Elliott free throws. Somehow, someway, Pitt defeated the Hurricanes 71-68.


Pitt travels to Chapel Hill for a matchup with North Carolina this Wednesday (Feb. 1st) at 7 PM with hopes of completing the season sweep over the Tarheels.