PITTSBURGH — On Tuesday night in prime time, in front of a national television audience, facing perhaps college basketball’s most storied program, Justin Champagnie introduced himself to the rest of America.
They found what Pitt fans already knew: the 6-foot-6 sophomore from Brooklyn is the real deal.
Champagnie scored 31 points, tying a career high and added 14 rebounds and he did it all for the Panthers, completely outshining the big stars of the Blue Devils in a 79-73 Pitt victory.
He scored eight points in the game’s first five minutes as Pitt got out to a strong start, something the team had been lacking in recent games.
After the Blue Devils battled back to take the lead late in the first half, the Panthers pulled away with a 14-0 run capped by a Champagnie 3-pointer and closed the first 20 minutes with a nine-point advantage.
In the second half, Duke forged a rebounding advantage with Pitt forward Abdoul Karim Coulibaly in foul trouble. A six-minute basket-less drought for the Panthers let the Blue Devils close all the way to two points on three separate occasions, but they could never get all the way to level.
Au’Diese Toney had 10 of his 22 points in the second half and also finished with 11 rebounds, and was key in getting to the free-throw line as Pitt’s shooting faltered.
Point guard Xavier Johnson had a tough night shooting, but came through with a clutch layup with 1:40 to play and nailed his free throws with 23 seconds to play to help seal the win. He finished with nine points and 11 assists.
Champagnie scored 30 or more for the third time in his career. He crossed the 20-point threshold for the fifth time in eighth games and earned his fifth double-double of the season.
We'll say it again for those in the back…
🗣️ JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE IS A 𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗕𝗟𝗘𝗠!
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) January 20, 2021
Five-star freshman Jalen Johnson played his first full game since Dec. 2 and made a huge impact for Duke, scoring 24 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and handing out seven assists before fouling out with 2:16 to play.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Pitt against Duke, with the Panthers last beating the Blue Devils on Feb. 28, 2016 at the Pete. The Panthers (8-3, 4-1 in ACC) started their conference season 4-1, also for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Pitt will go on the road for their next matchup, visiting Boston College on Saturday. The Panthers will return to The Pete on Jan. 26, when they host North Carolina.