GREENSBORO, N.C. — Justin Champagnie exploded for 31 points to lead Pitt past Wake Forest, 81-72 in the first round of the 2020 ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum and snap a seven-game losing streak for the Panthers.
Champagnie, Pitt’s freshman star that was snubbed from the All-ACC freshman list earlier in the week, provided the voters with an up-close and personal look at his abilities, going 13 of 19 from the floor while slicing through the Wake Forest defense and showing off a strong finishing touch at the rim.
Champagnie, who set a career high int scoring, also grabbed five rebounds and was 3 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc. He got his hot night started from the get-go, making the first basket of the game as Pitt’s offense started the game shot out of a cannon.
Pitt made its first five shots and 12 of its first 17 from the field, a rare hot offensive start for a team that has struggled to get going at times this season.
But while everything was going in at Pitt’s end of the floor, Wake Forest was having just as much success. Wake Forest forward Olivier Sarr proved too much for the Pitt frontcourt to deal with. He scored eight early, finished with 20 and was slowed more throughout the game by foul trouble than the Pitt defense.
Wake Forest opened up a seven-point lead, but Pitt was able to close on a 10-4 run, with six of the points coming from Champagnie, including a dunk to close that half that bounced high off the iron and still fell through the cylinder.
In the second half, Pitt got a better defensive effort, holding Wake Forest to 11 of 28 (39.3%) from the floor in the second period, and got a well-rounded offensive effort that saw Trey McGowens (14), Xavier Johnson (10), Au’Diese Toney (10) and Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (10) all finish in double figures.
Pitt will advance to face fifth-seeded NC State in the second round. That game will tip off at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.