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Jeff Capel ‘Hopes’ Au’Diese Toney Can Play Saturday vs. Syracuse

Pitt's bench looks on as the Panthers battled Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

Jeff Capel ‘Hopes’ Au’Diese Toney Can Play Saturday vs. Syracuse

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Pittsburgh Panthers could have used Au’Diese Toney’s defensive expertise on Tuesday in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Without the freshman wing from Huntsville, Alabama, Pitt allowed Clemson to shoot 55.3 percent from the floor, the highest percentage it has allowed an opponent all season, and the Tigers rolled to a 82-69 victory.

Toney injured his right hand in practice on Sunday, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said after the team’s loss. Capel said that there isn’t anything broken in Toney’s hand, and he participated in shootaround Tuesday morning. But that was when Capel noticed that Toney couldn’t catch the ball.

“It swelled up. We got X-rays,” Capel said. “We made the determination (at shootaround) that he wouldn’t be able to play (against Clemson).”

Capel added that he “hopes” Toney will be ready by Saturday for Pitt’s home contest vs. Syracuse.

“We’ll evaluate him when we practice again,” Capel said.

Toney leads Pitt in rebounding this season, averaging six boards per-game. He started every Pitt game before missing Tuesday’s contest and also averaged 9.4 points and a steal per-game. With quick feet, toughness, a 6-foot-6 and 210-pound frame, and a lengthy reach, he’s become a versatile defender for a Pitt defense that ranks 18th in efficiency, according to KenPom.

On Tuesday, Capel turned to Malik Ellison to start in place of Toney. A junior wing from Voorhees, New Jersey, Ellison finished with four points, four rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes.

“It affects us,” Capel said of Toney’s absence on Tuesday. “That’s a guy that’s been starting for us. He’s our leading rebounder. It certainly affected us. But I’ll tell you what, Samson George came in and gave us great minutes. I thought Khameron Davis came in and gave us really good minutes. I thought Sidy N’Dir gave us really good minutes. Did it affect us? Yes, because we have a rotation of what we’ve been doing, but it’s no excuse. We have to play better. Everyone on our team has an opportunity to step up. Some guys did, some guys didn’t.”

George had three points, four rebounds and a block in 10 minutes off the bench. Davis tallied seven points, four rebounds and three steals in 25 minutes off the pine. N’Dir added six points in 27 minutes.

Three Clemson players made at least four three-pointers Tuesday night. The Tigers shot 51.9 percent from behind the arc as they cruised to a win.

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