PITTSBURGH — Pitt guard Au’Diese Toney and power forward Terrell Brown, who head coach Jeff Capel called questionable to play in Saturday’s meeting with Syracuse at Petersen Events Center, both returned to action, but with vastly different outcomes.
Brown, who played just four minutes in Pitt’s loss to Clemson on Tuesday, and did not practice most of this week while battling a strep infection, returned to the starting lineup, played 15 minutes and led the Panthers with 16 points and also grabbed six rebounds.
“When we got back, I probably had a 100 fever,” Brown said. “I didn’t practice the next two days. I stayed in my room the whole day. [Friday], my first back I felt good. Today, I felt good. … I didn’t think I was fighting through anything. I had a little cough.”
His breakout performance, setting a season high in points, drew notice from the opposition.
“Brown really was aggressive today,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He was really good. He did a good job and [Malik] Ellison did a good job of getting him the ball and passing down low.”
Toney, who has been dealing with a right hand injury, did not start and played just 10 minutes off the bench while wearing a protective brace around his thumb and wrist. He did not score and was 0 for 2 from the floor.
“He had one day of practice yesterday and so his wind is not where it needs to be,” Capel said.
In place of Toney, junior Malik Ellison started as the tallest of Pitt’s four guards. He played 26 minutes, scored nine points on 3 of 9 shooting and led the Panthers with 11 rebounds.
Pitt’s depth without Toney at 100 percent was certainly lacking. The Panthers were outscored, 11-2, in bench points.
Capel did not want to use the injury and illness as an excuse for he’s team’s subpar play and streak of five straight losses.
“Adversity is something that you have to go through,” he said. “You have to stay together, you have to stay connected and you have to stay positive.”