Pitt men’s basketball is back home Wednesday night for the third-straight game after narrowly defeating Towson 63-59 last Friday night.
The Panthers broke out of an early losing streak against The Citadel and West Virginia to beat UNC Wilmington and Towson, looking to put together a two-game winning streak and propel over .500.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (2-2) matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1).
Unfamiliar with SEC
Pitt has played numerous non-conference games against lower-level programs, a Big Ten or Big 12 team, Duquesne, Robert Morris, and others, but has rarely played the SEC.
The Panthers last played an early regular-season non-conference game against an SEC opponent 10 years ago while still in the Big East. Pitt defeated Tennessee in Knoxville 61-56 on December 3, 2011.
Pitt is shooting just under 45% from the field, but still struggles mightily from the free-throw line slightly improving over 55% from a week ago. Rebounding has become a team strength and put backs off the offensive glass has also led to second-chance points and opportunities.
Jamarius Burton can Make a Difference
In two games this season since returning from injury, guard Jamarius Burton has been a spark for the Panthers off the bench.
Burton has recorded nine points and two assists per game, averaging 27 minutes-per-appearance. The Texas Tech transfer has an almost 22% usage rate, third on the team behind John Hugley and Femi Odukale.
The play of Daniel Oladapo and Nate Santos has been much needed for a fragile offensive, but Burton has the potential and skill set to be a difference maker. An impactful game in double figures would go a long way for Pittsburgh chances against Vanderbilt.
Detailing the Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt has started the new season beating the teams they were expected to defeat but losing a defensive battle to one of the countries’ most well known defensive teams.
The Commodores began with back-to-back home wins by 19 points against Alabama State and Texas State. A 48-37 home loss to VCU was due in part to Vanderbilt shooting 23% from the floor and only making 2 of 25 three-point attempts. The team rebounded three days later and bounced back against Winthrop at home, 77-63.
Wednesday marks Vanderbilt’s first road game of the 2021-22 campaign. The Commodores have played strong defense yet versus mostly lesser opponents. They shoot a large number of threes and are a better free throw shooting team than the Panthers.
Guard Jordan Wright leads Vanderbilt with 18.8 points-per-game and is followed by fellow guard Scotty Pippen Jr., the son of former Bulls star Scottie Pippen, averaging 16.5 points after being named SEC preseason Player of the Year.
Vanderbilt is favored by 2.5 points in Friday morning’s latest odds after opening at 3.5.
Pitt ended last season 11-10-1 against the spread and 5-3 on the road. The Panthers are 2-2 against the spread early on this year.
The over/under for the Panthers’ fourth home game is set at 129.5 points.
Vanderbilt is 2-2 against the spread this year.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Vanderbilt and Pitt matchup will air on the ACC Network Wednesday night. Jay Alter and Paul Biancardi have the call starting at 9 p.m.
The game can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.