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Justin Champagnie Cools Down, but Pitt Wins ACC Opener over Miami, 70-55

Justin Champagnie Cools Down, but Pitt Wins ACC Opener over Miami, 70-55

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Pitt didn’t see 20-20 this time from Justin Champagnie.

But the Panthers’ supporting cast, coupled with a clutch second half from Au’diese Toney propelled them to a 70-55 victory over the Miami Hurricanes Wednesday night at the Watsco Center in the ACC opener for both teams.

Champagnie, last week’s ACC Player of the Week after he became only the sixth player in ACC history since 1970 to post two or more 20-20 games in a season, picked up two fouls in less than four minutes to open the game and sat out the remainder of the first half.

Champagnie, who entered the contest leading Pitt (5-1, 1-0 in ACC) in scoring (19.4 points per game) and rebounds (13.0 per game), finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. He picked up an additional two fouls in the second half including a technical foul with 1:52 remaining.

Ithiel Horton finished with 18 points on 4 of 6 shooting from 3-point range and Toney scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half as the Panthers posted one of their more balanced scoring efforts so far this season.

Two of Pitt’s freshmen – John Hugley (nine points) and Noah Collier (four rebounds) held the fort in the first half.

Pittsburgh, which ranked third in the ACC in three-point field goal defense entering the game, took advantage of Miami’s ongoing long-distance shooting problem. The Hurricanes, who went 4-for-36 from 3-point range in their previous two games, missed their first 10 such attempts and finished shooting 5 for 24 and 20.8 percent overall.

A spurt of back-to-back threes by Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong gave the Canes a 35-34 lead with 15:45 left in the second half. But Pitt answered with an 19-2 run to take the lead for good.

The Panthers also won the rebounding battle, 43-29, over a Miami squad which entered the game tied for 28th in the nation in rebounds per game (43.0).

Senior guard Nike Sibande didn’t start but made his Pitt debut a little over four minutes into the game and finished with three points in eight minutes. Sibande, a transfer from Miami (Ohio), gained his eligibility on Wednesday afternoon when the NCAA granted a proposal to allow all players with pending waiver requests to be eligible to play this season.

The Hurricanes played without preseason ACC first team guard Chris Lykes for the third consecutive game as well as senior guard Kameron McGusty and center Rodney Miller, whom each suffered leg injuries in their previous game vs. Florida Gulf Coast.

The Panthers will next host No. 23 Louisville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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