That Jeff Capel’s team lost last night wasn’t a surprise.
However, the fact that his young team was so competitive and even had a chance to win was the biggest take coming from Pitt’s 69-68 loss to #14 Iowa.
Two free throws by Xavier Johnson with 41 seconds cut Iowa’s lead to 69-68. After a missed 3-pointer and two free throws by Iowa, Pitt got the ball back with a chance to stake out a signature win on the road.
Freshman Trey McGowens tried for the win but missed a shot in the lane and then senior Sidy N’Dir missed the follow-up shot at the buzzer.
“We were trying to get the ball to the basket,” said Capel. “We tried to get something quick and maybe a foul, to put pressure on the defense and make a play. I thought we got two good shots.”
The loss was Pitt’s first of the season and Capel’s first as Panthers head coach.
Although it was a loss, Capel had to be encouraged that his young team, who were 11 point underdogs, battled to the end with the no. 14 team in the country and one of the preseason favorites in the Big Ten conference.
Pitt’s trio of freshman once again led them in scoring. Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney combined for 32 points to go along with 12 rebounds and 7 assists.
Johnson led the Panthers with 18 points and became the first Pitt freshman to score double digit points in each of the teams first seven games of the season.
“X” also became the 10th freshman in Pitt history to score 15 or more points in 3 consecutive games.
An important factor in the game were free throws.
All season, getting to the free throw line has been a strength for Pitt but last night, the Panthers only attempted 13 free throws, which was a season-low. On the other side, Iowa went to the line 28 times.
Pitt Scoring Breakdown:
- X. Johnson: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
- T. McGowens: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
- K. Chukwuka: 9 points, 3 rebounds
- S. N’Dir: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
- J. Wilson-Frame: 7 points, 5 rebounds
- T. Brown: 5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- A. Toney: 4 points, 3 rebounds
- M. Ellison: 4 points, 3 rebounds
- K. Davis: 2 points, 1 rebound
Next up for the Panthers is a matchup on Friday against Duquesne (4-1) in the City Game. Tip-off from PPG Paints Arena is set for 7 PM.