Pitt men’s basketball remains at the Peterson Event Center Friday night for the second-straight game after defeating UNC Wilmington Tuesday night 59-51.
The Panthers broke out of an early losing streak against The Citadel and West Virginia, welcoming Towson to Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (1-2) matchup against the Towson Tigers (2-1).
It Hasn’t be Pretty
The Panthers have struggled mightily through three games putting the ball in the basket. Pitt and UNC Wilmington finished Tuesday’s game shooting a combined 2-25 from the floor. Pitt lacks true shooters, especially from behind the three-point arc, relying on points-in-the-paint to get the job done.
Jeff Capel described the win saying, “Right now, we are going to have to win ugly, and that’s what we did today.”
Pitt is shooting 45% from the field, but still struggles mightily from the free-throw line at just over 53%. Hitting from the charity stripe should be a major point of emphasis to cut down on “winning ugly” and sealing games against relatively unknown opponents. Don’t expect things to be wrapped up in a bow and easily delivered, but if the Panthers can knock down a few more shots to keep them in games a 10-point win is a possibility.
Controlling the Glass
Despite being one of the worst offensive teams in major college basketball, Pitt has succeeded in rebounding the ball compared to other key metrics. The Panthers are tied for 93rd in rebounding (37), and tied for 34th in offensive boards (12.7).
Towson, on the other hand, records similar rebounding numbers, statistically only tenths of percentage points less than Pitt. The game could become a battle of the boards and defensive slugfest.
Expect John Hugley to benefit from the matchup, leading all Panthers in rebounds, nine, and William Jeffress not far behind just under eight. Pitt needs to help itself at the line and behind the arc to make the rebounding numbers more important.
Tackling the Towson Tigers
Towson will become the second-straight team Pitt plays from the Colonial Athletic Conference after beating UNC Wilmington. Located outside of Baltimore, Towson is 2-1 on the season and has already recorded half of its win total from a year ago (4-14).
The Tigers blew out Albany 77-56 on the road in the season opener, but struggled at home against Monmouth. A 79-71 finish is the only blemish on Towson’s young season, bouncing back versus Hampton three days later for its first home victory.
The team has the ability to hit the long ball with over six-per-game compared to Pitt’s two. The Tigers also take care of the ball well for a small team, ranking in the top 100 in turnovers (12) and steals (nearing 9). Cam Holden leads Towson in points (14.3) and rebounds (10.7) through three games, registering a double-double in two of the three. Keep an eye on Nicolas Timberlake and Jason Gibson to also make an impact.
Pitt is favored by five points in Friday morning’s latest odds.
The program ended last season 11-10-1 against the spread and 5-3 on the road. Pitt is 2-1 against the spread early on this year.
The over/under for the Panthers’ third home game out of four total is set at 133.5 points.
Both of Towson’s wins have been by over 20 points, with its one loss coming in a surprise eight-point loss to Hampton at home.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The UNC Wilmington and Pitt matchup with air on the ACC Network Friday night.
The game can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt hosts SEC foe Vanderbilt on the eve of Thanksgiving Wednesday November 24. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. and will air on the ACC Network and 93.7 The Fan.