Pitt (9-6, 5-5 ACC) is looking to bounce back from its loss against Virginia with another conference matchup, this time against Georgia Tech (9-8, 5-6 ACC) on Sunday.
Here are five things to know to get you ready for Sunday’s 4 p.m. tipoff on ACC Network from Atlanta.
PITT COMING OFF SIX DAYS REST, FOCUSING ON DEFENSE IN PRACTICE
After falling to Virginia last week, Pitt was originally scheduled to take on Louisville on Wednesday, but due to COVID issues within the Cardinals’ program, the game was postponed.
“It was good this week because we had the chance to relax, watch film if you needed to, and just learn from our last losses.,” guard Xavier Johnson said. “I think we are all prepared, we’re ready to go for our next couple games. We know these next few games matter for us to get to where we want to get to.”
While Pitt’s team defense has been solid throughout the season and ranks near the top of the conference in multiple categories, Johnson says that that end of the floor is where the team needs to improve in order to make a late-season push.
“Our offense is there,” Johnson said about what he took away from this long week of practice. “It’s just our defense. We’ve got to defend a little better, we’ve got to defend for 40 minutes. That’s what we haven’t been doing lately, and that’s why we haven’t been winning the way we’re supposed to.”
NEW YORK NATIVES FACING OFF
Sunday’s game will feature three big time players that all were raised playing in the streets of New York. Pitt’s Justin Champagnie and Femi Odukale will take on Jose Alvarado, a fellow Brooklyn native who has been known as one of the loudest players in the ACC when it comes to trash talking.
“We feel like we’re underdogs because everybody always says something about Brooklyn,” Odukale said. “Brooklyn guards can only dribble, they can’t shoot, Brooklyn guards can just be tough, they don’t have any skill. So we just got an edge to us, and we’re just going to compete.”
Alvarado is Georgia Tech’s leading scorer on the year, averaging 17.1 points per game on 52% shooting from the field. Standing at six foot, he uses his scrappiness and mouth to gain an edge when out on the court.
“I am going to show him with my actions,” Odukale said about responding to Alvarado’s talk. “Later in the game, hopefully, I am going to show him with the score. I am from New York so I’m used to it. It’s like being back in the playground, doesn’t really mean anything to me.”
YELLOW JACKETS HAVE LOST TWO STRAIGHT
The game against Pitt will be Georgia Tech’s third game of the week after already taking on Virginia and Clemson.
On Wednesday, the Yellow Jackets fell to Virginia 57-49 at home. In that game, they were led by Alvarado’s 18 points and Jordan Usher’s 12. As a team, they shot just 36% from the field including 19% from 3-point range. Only seven players saw the floor for Georgia Tech and everyone in the starting lineup played more than 30 minutes.
In its most recent game against Clemson, Georgia Tech fell to the Tigers 74-72. After two missed free throws by Alvarado in the final seconds, Clemson came down and buried a three to take the lead and put away the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s shooting numbers overall were better than the Virginia game, but the team once again struggled from deep, going just 5 of 19.
PITT STRUGGLING ON THE ROAD AS OF LATE
After starting the season with three-straight road wins over Northwestern, Miami, and Syracuse, Pitt has now lost its last two games on the road.
In both of those losses at Wake Forest and Virginia, Pitt gave up pretty high shooting numbers to the opposition. Wake Forest shot 46% from the field and 47% from three, including Ismael Massoud’s 8-for-10 night from downtown.
BETTING INFO: VEGAS FAVORING THE JACKETS
According to popular betting service BetOnline, Pitt is currently a 4.5 point underdog as it travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. The moneyline is currently set at Pitt (+170) and Georgia Tech (-200) with the over/under hovering around 142.5.
Pitt is 9-6 against the spread this season while Georgia Tech is 8-9. The Panthers are scoring an average of 72.6 points per game while the Yellow Jackets are putting up 74.76 points per contest.