After starting off its season 8-2, Pitt now finds itself at 9-8 with a 5-7 conference record with just a few games remaining before the ACC tournament. After falling to NC State at home on Wednesday, the Panthers return to their home court to take on No. 16 Florida State on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Here are five things to know to get you ready for the ACC battle.
FREE THROWS, TURNOVERS, LACK OF DISCIPLINE KILLING PITT
I sound like a broken record here, but once again Pitt struggled to hold onto the ball and convert from the free-throw line in its loss to NC State. The Panthers went just 19 of 28 from the line, leaving nine points up on the board, which, in a one-point loss, is crushing. They also turned the ball over 14 times, including some crucial possessions in the second half.
Also in this game were two more technical fouls earned by the Panthers. Guards Xavier Johnson and Femi Odukale both picked up T’s, and for a team that only has two players run the point (Odukale and Johnson), that cannot happen. Johnson has struggled with foul trouble all year, and it is starting to hurt his team more and more as the season goes on.
PITT DEFENSE STRUGGLING, FSU OFFENSE NOT
Since taking down Duke on Jan. 19, Pitt has now lost six of its last seven conference matchups, dropping to 11th place in the ACC.
After starting off the year strong defensively and on the boards, Pitt now ranks just ninth in the league in points allowed per game and tenth in the league in defensive rebounding. While the offense has been an issue all season, the defense has especially collapsed the last few games, giving up 70+ points in the last nine games.
Against Florida State, a team with lots of skilled, lengthy players, Pitt is not going to be able to rely on the Seminoles to just miss shots. The Seminoles possess the number one offense in the conference, averaging 79.3 points per game and shooting 47.3% from the field, which is good for second in the ACC. Oh, and they just put up 81 on a Tony Bennet-led Virginia team.
SEMINOLES WINNING WITH LENGTH
One of the biggest areas of concern for Pitt heading into this matchup against the talented Florida State team is the size and length of the Seminoles.
Their three leading scorers, MJ Walker, RaiQuan Gray, and Scottie Barnes, stand at 6-foot-8, 6-foot-5, and 6-foot-9, respectively. Walker, leading the way with an average of 13.9 points, is also a huge threat beyond the 3-point line, as he is shooting 47.8% from downtown on the season. Gray is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.4 points per game while leading the team in rebounds, grabbing an average of 6.5.
Barnes is one of the most intriguing NBA prospects in the conference, as he is just a freshman putting up solid numbers in his first season in the ACC. The 6-foot-9 point forward has exceptional ball skills, touch, and power when he has the ball in his hands. He is averaging 10.2 points per game and 3.7 boards,
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) February 19, 2021
Other than its three leading scorers, the Seminoles also have plenty of length and size up and down the rest of their lineup. 7-foot-1 Balsa Koprivica is going to pose a matchup nightmare for the Panthers, as Pitt does not start a single player over 6-foot-8.
FSU HOT COMING OFF STATEMENT WIN
Last Monday, Florida State took down Virginia in dominant fashion, winning 81-60 in front of a national audience. FSU led by 10+ points throughout the majority of the game, and even when the Cavaliers tried to pull closer in the second half, the Seminoles held them off.
In that game, Florida State featured a relatively balanced scoring attack, with six players scoring at least seven points. Walker led the way with 17 points, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Gray also turned in a strong performance, contributing 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
As a team, the Seminoles shot 50% from the field and 54.2% from beyond the arc. They also shot 76.9% from the free-throw line, somewhere Pitt has struggled mightily in recent games. Another place where the Noles excelled in the matchup was the turnover game. They scored 21 points off of 13 Virginia turnovers, and only turned the ball over five times themselves.
SPREAD, OVER/UNDER, CHANNEL INFO
The spread for this game is currently Florida State (-6.5) according to BetOnline. The Seminoles are 12-3 overall and are 9-6 against the spread. They have covered in six of their last eight contests, including their last game against Virginia.
The Over/Under is currently hovering around 146.5. Saturday’s game will be televised on AT&T’s Regional Sports Networks and tip off at 4 p.m. This will be Pitt’s second straight game at Petersen Events Center before it travels down to Raleigh to take on NC State on Feb. 28.