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Trending Upwards: Breaking Down Pitt’s Improvements Since Its Loss Against Virginia

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On Wednesday night at 9 p.m., Pitt will host Virginia in a huge ACC battle almost two months after the two first met this year.

In that game, Pitt, without Femi Odukale, went into Charlottesville and fell by one point on a game-winning jumper from Virginia’s star Jayden Gardner. The Panthers featured a balanced scoring attack, led by John Hugley’s 12 points, Jamarius Burton’s 11, and Onye Ezeakudo’s 8.

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The Virginia loss became one of five games in a row for Pitt that was decided by four or less points. Pitt went 2-3 in those contests, but has shown some improvement since then in a number of categories.

Since that game, Pitt is 5-4 with wins over Colgate, St. John’s, Jacksonville, Boston College, and Louisville. During that span, the Panthers have scored an average of 64.4 points, which is around 2 points higher than its average throughout the whole season. They have also given up an average of exactly 64 points per game, which is right in line with its season average of 64.9.

One of Pitt’s biggest improvements as a team since the beginning of the year has been at the free-throw line. In its first eight games, Pitt made 109 of its 190 free-throw attempts (57%), but since, then, it has knocked down 162 of its 224 attempts (72%).

There have also been plenty of individual improvements for the Panthers this season, especially since the Virginia game.

After grabbing just three rebounds against the Cavaliers, John Hugley has picked up at least six rebounds in each of the nine games since then.

From the beginning of the season up through that initial Virginia game, Jamarius Burton had not made more than four field goals in a game for Pitt. Since then, he has hit more than four shots in seven of Pitt’s nine games in that stretch, and has two games with seven buckets and one game with eight.

Through the Virginia game, Mo Gueye had only scored in double figures twice, and was averaging just 5.4 points per game. Since then, Gueye has scored in double figures seven times, and is averaging 11.4 points in his last nine games.

The Panthers will look to these players as well as the rest of its supporting cast in Wednesday night’s rematch against the Cavaliers. The game will be televised on ACC Network with tip off set for 9 p.m. from the Petersen Events Center.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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