PITTSBURGH — Under-manned and without their head coach, Pitt fought to the last against No. 23 Louisville, but could not hang with the Cardinals in the end, with the Panthers dropping their ACC opener, 64-54 at Petersen Events Center on Tuesday.
Pitt played the game without head coach Jeff Capel, who missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, and also without starting wings and leading scorers Justin Champagnie and Au’Diese Toney, who both missed the game with injuries.
Senior transfer Nike Sibande and freshman Noah Collier drew into the starting lineup against Louisville, but it was another newcomer that came off the bench that made the biggest impact in the game for Pitt.
Freshman guard Odukale nearly singlehandedly got Pitt back into the game after the Cardinals opened up a 15-point first-half lead. Odukale hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get things going, and had 12 points during a nine-minute, 17-3 Pitt run that got the game back to even just before the end of the first half.
The freshman guard finished with a team-high 16 points. The Brooklyn native had scored just 13 points in his first six games combined.
Pitt got itself into significant foul trouble in the second half, with starting center Abdoul Karim Coulibaly picking up three in the first two minutes of the second period and fouling out with just under six minutes to play.
Starting point guard Xavier Johnson also dealt with foul trouble, exiting the game with under three minutes to play after scoring 10 points.
The Cardinals enjoyed a significant advantage on the glass throughout, perhaps attributable to the absence of leading rebounder Champagnie. Louisville finished with a 45-26 rebounding advantage. David Johnson had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cardinals in both categories.
Associate head coach Tim O’Toole filled in for Capel, working as head coach in a Division I game for the first time since 2006 with Fairfield.
Pitt’s next game is Dec. 29, when the Panthers will visit Duke.