Pitt (9-7, 5-6 ACC) returns home for a Wednesday afternoon showdown against NC State at Petersen Events Center at 4:30 p.m.
Here are five things to know to get you prepared for the ACC battle between the two struggling teams.
BOTH TEAMS HAVE LOST TWO STRAIGHT
After opening the month of February with a huge win over a ranked Virginia Tech team, Pitt has dropped its last two games with losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Against the Cavaliers, Pitt struggled to contain the Virginia shooting attack, especially from outside. Led by Sam Hauser’s 8-for-9 night, the Cavaliers shot 53.2% from the field including 50% from 3-point range. In the loss against Georgia Tech, Pitt could not overcome its 18 turnovers, falling 71-65. In those two games, Pitt has shot a combined 46.7% from the field and 34.4% from deep, somewhere where it has struggled all year.
NC State (8-9, 4-8 ACC) has lost four of its last five games, including the most recent two to Syracuse and Duke, two teams that Pitt has beaten this year. In those games, the Wolfpack shot a combined 44.8% from the field and 35.7% from downtown, similar numbers to the Panthers recent marks.
THOMAS ALLEN OUT AGAINST PITT
On Wednesday, NC State will be without redshirt junior Thomas Allen due to a leg injury. The 6-foot-1 guard is currently averaging 7.4 points, 1.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game, and has started 15 out of 17 games for the Wolfpack this season.
Junior guard Thomas Allen suffered a lower left leg injury Monday in practice. X-rays were negative, but he will not play in today’s game at Pitt.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) February 17, 2021
Just two games ago in the loss to Syracuse, Thomas scored a season-high 17 points in 35 minutes. He shot 4 of 8 from outside that game and will certainly be a missed veteran presence when the Wolfpack travels to Pittsburgh Wednesday.
ITHIEL HORTON EMERGING AS A WEAPON FOR PITT
Throughout the season, Pitt has been led by Justin Champagnie, Xavier Johnson, and Au’Diese Toney in the major offensive stats. However, as of late, a new face has emerged as a confident offensive option.
After transferring from Delaware to Pitt before last season, many looked at Ithiel Horton to become Pitt’s potential fourth scoring option behind the big three named above. After a slow start to the season, he has now filled into that role nicely and is becoming a reliable shooting option from deep.
“I was just out of it for some reason,” Horton said. “But then I came in and switched my shoes — I don’t know if that had something to do with it — and I just told myself ‘you have to step up your game, you’re one of the leaders on this team.’”
The 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore has scored 15+ points in each of Pitt’s last three games, after a stretch of four games in which he only surpassed ten points once. In those three recent games, he has played 30+ minutes and made at least three 3-pointers in all of them. On the season, Horton is now averaging ten points and 2.5 rebounds per game while shooting 38% from downtown.
PITT NEEDS TO LIMIT FOULS, TURNOVERS
Pitt had four players with at least three fouls, including Johnson’s five. That game was Johnson’s sixth game with at least four fouls and his third game in which he has fouled out this season. Other than Johnson, Horton had four, Toney had three, and Abdoul-Karim Coulibaly had three as well.
The Panthers also turned the ball over 18 times in one of their sloppiest games of the season.
“They did a good job of stealing the basketball,” head coach Jeff Capel said after the loss to Georgia Tech. “We were careless.”
SPREAD, OVER/UNDER, CHANNEL INFO
Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, Pitt is favored for the first time in four games. The Panthers are currently listed as four-point favorites with a money line of (-195) against the Wolfpack. The over/under for this game is hovering around 141.5.
The 4:30 p.m. contest will take place at Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh and will be televised on ACC Network.