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Pitt Basketball

Five Things to Know Before Pitt vs. UNC Wilmington

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The Pitt Panthers are back at the Peterson Event Center Tuesday night after dropping their second-straight game to West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl.

Pitt (0-2) is winless on the season, first losing to The Citadel to open the year, and desperately needs a bounce-back game to instill confidence in the young team.

Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (0-2) matchup against the UNC Wilmington Seahawks (1-1).

Lacking the Long-ball

The Panthers have struggled mightily early on to create offense with numerous key players out. The lackluster play is especially bad behind the arc, only knocking down an average of two-and-a-half three point shots per-game to a tune of 21.7%. 

Those marks are tied for 354th and 342nd, respectively, throughout all of college basketball. Consistent shooting and smarter shot selection from the likes of Nate Santos, John Hugley and company could make a difference against the Seahawks. Pitt has been significantly bad from three and also shoots a meager 52% from the free-throw line. Making one small step at a time will be critical to prevent falling into a deep hole no team can climb out of.

William Jeffress (24) – November 9, 2021 David Hague/PSN

Take Care of the Ball, Good Things will Happen

No matter what sport it may be, a common denominator in success and victories is protecting the ball. When Kenny Pickett takes care of the ball and makes smart decisions, the Pitt football team has a legit shot to win any game. In a similar way, Pitt basketball must protect the ball and translate offense to defense.

The Panthers are tied for 343rd in the nation in turnovers with 20-per-game. The team also ranks 307th in offensive (88.8) and 311th in defensive rating (110.6).

Against an average but not outstanding UNC Wilmington team, Pitt could change its out-of-conference fortunes. Just over a 38% clip from the floor, the Seahawks run into cold streaks as well and will be challenged on the road. A main key for the Panthers is making smart decisions and playing as a collective unit.

Nate Santos (5) – November 9, 2021 David Hague/PSN

The UNC Wilmington Report

The UNC Wilmington Seahawks enter Pittsburgh from the Colonial Athletic Conference and have earned national successes in the past. UNCW has made the NCAA Tournament six times and back-to-back seasons from 2016-2017, being back in March Madness more recently than Pitt’s loss to Wisconsin in the 2016 tournament. 

The Seahawks lost their season opener at Illinois State 68-63. Defensive pressure and capitalizing off points in the paint will be a difference in the game, one that UNC Wilmington won against Illinois State but lost against their next opponent.

The program earned its first win in the home opener against Guilford 77-68 Friday led by Shykeim Phillips’ team-high 15 points and five assists. The dynamic junior guard is averaging 14.5 points-per-game alongside fellow guard Jaylon Fornes in double figures at 11.5 per-game. The duo will be one to limit production wise for the Panthers on both ends of the floor to earn their first win.

Spread, Over/Under

Pitt is favored by seven points in Tuesday’s latest odds. 

Pitt ended last season 11-10-1 against the spread and 5-3 on the road. The Panthers also finished 4-6-1 after a loss. 

The over/under for the Blue and Gold’s second home game is set at 138 points. 

Both of UNC Wilmington’s games this season have been decided by less than 10 points.

Broadcast, Radio Info

The UNC Wilmington and Pitt matchup with air on ACC Network Extra Tuesday night. 

The game can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.

Pitt remains home throughout Thanksgiving and welcomes Towson to the Petersen Events Center on Friday at 6 p.m. The game will air on the ACC Network and 93.7 The Fan. 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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