In Pitt’s first five games against Power Five competition this season, the Panthers impressed, going 4-1, with the one loss coming without Justin Champagnie against Louisville on Dec. 22.
In those five games, Pitt allowed 70, 55, 64, 60 and 76 points for a 65-point-per-game average.
In Pitt’s last five games, the Panthers are 1-4, and have allowed 65 or more points in all five games. They’ve averaged 76.4 points per game against in that span.
On Sunday, the Panthers will play a team that his driven by its offense in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets (9-8, 5-6 in ACC) are just about even with the Panthers (9-6, 5-5 ACC) in the standings.
But Josh Pastner’s crew has a much more prolific offense. Georgia Tech is No. 43 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, according two KenPom.com, while coming in 78th on defense. Pitt is 74th on offense and 81st on defense. The even matchup on one end of the floor is going to put an increased emphasis on Pitt’s defense, an area that’s been trending downward, not upward.
“We’ve got a lack of communication,” Pitt point guard Xavier Johnson said this week. “We just stop talking for a segment. That’s the main reason why we got beat by Virginia, that five-minute segment.”
The Cavaliers have one of the best offenses in the league, at No. 13 nationally, far better than Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets have a more dominant individual player. Yellow Jackets guard Jose Alvarado is the fifth-leading scorer in the league and owns a 51.7% field-goal percentage.
The matchup is largely going to fall to Johnson, unlike against Virginia, where the Cavaliers’ bigger player are there most dangerous scorers.
“He’s a smaller guy,” Johnson said. “I’ve just got to use my length against him and my speed, because I think I’m faster than him, as well.”
Of the rest of the top scorers in the league, Champagnie and Duke’s Matthew Hurt are wing players. Pitt avoided Isaiah Wong in its trip to Miami. Johnson and Femi Odukale helped hold Louisville’s Carlik Jones, who averages 17.4 points per game, to 11 in that loss to the Cardinals in December.
Alvarado will likely be the last strong test of Pitt’s perimeter defense.
“He’s a really good guard,” Johnson said. “He can shoot it.”