PITTSBURGH — It was the start of the Jeff Capel era and the collegiate debut for Pitt’s three freshmen men’s basketball players on Tuesday at Petersen Events Center.
Thanks to a one-game suspension to senior Jared Wilson-Frame, all three freshmen drew into Capel’s lineup and all three came through, with Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney playing big roles in Pitt’s 69-53 victory over Youngstown State.
Johnson, from Woodbridge, Virginia, started at point guard and made the Panthers’ offense go throughout, filling the stat sheet with 16 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.
McGowens, the No. 95 player in the class from Pendleton, South Carolina, was an athletic monster at the shooting guard spot, taking players to the rim and dominating in transition to the tune of 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
Toney, a surprise starter at the three spot thanks to Wilson-Frame’s suspension, cashed in for 12 points (4 of 9) and led Pitt with nine rebounds.
It was also the Pitt debut for redshirt junior wing Malik Ellison, who sat out 2017-18 after transferring from St. John’s. He had 13 points and six rebounds.
The night of debuts injected some enthusiasm to the Pitt fanbase. A total of 4,729 saw the game, over 1,600 more than the opener the season previous.