Jeff Capel’s Pitt Panthers shocked the basketball world Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.
The Panthers have won three in a row, their best winning streak of the season, taking down North Carolina 76-67 after defeating Florida State and N.C. State last week. Pitt now turns its attention to Georgia Tech back home Saturday night.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (11-16, 6-10 ACC) matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-15, 3-11).
Pitt is 3-0 in their last three game days. Capel’s Panthers have defied the odds of expectations and have rebounded after a sluggish middle of the season. Upsetting North Carolina was the most impressive victory in years for Pitt.
It’s not the fact that Pitt won on the road but more of how they won that turned heads. Dominate might not even do justice to the Panthers’ efforts in the first half, taking a 40-23 advantage into halftime. The Dean Dome was in shock of what they were witnessing with Pitt riding the highest wave of confidence all season.
The Panthers shot a staggering 60% including 6-of-9 behind the three-point arc to create the massive cushion. North Carolina, on the other hand, only posted a 27.6% mark before being over 50% in the second half to mount an almost game-changing comeback. Pitt closed out the game making 14-of-14 free throws in the second half and recorded 22 points on 13 turnovers. Pitt gave it away 18 times themselves.
Shutting the Door
UNC outscored Pitt 44-36 in the second half and almost tied the game thanks to Kerwin Walton and Caleb Love. The team neutralized Armando Bacot to only seven points and forced him to the bench with foul trouble.
John Hugley was clearly the better big on the night, being relied on in the final possessions to shut the door on the Tar Heels’ comeback efforts. Hugley finished scoring 18 points and Ithiel Horton tied Love for the game lead at 19.
This Pitt team just looks different. Horton’s presence in the starting lineup has done volumes, but all five starters scored in double figures. Jamarius Burton (14), Mouhamadou Gueye (11), and Femi Odukale (10) all stepped up for the now 10th place Panthers in the ACC. Defense and timely scoring is a major loser of the team’s identity and was the blueprint for the third-straight appearance on the floor.
Stinging the Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech has nosedived near the end of the ACC regular season. Losers of three in a row, the Yellow Jackets enter the Petersen Events Center after dropping contests to Miami, Virginia, and N.C. State dating back to last Wednesday. The final score became more lopsided as the streak continued.
The program has the least amount of wins (3) as anyone in the conference and is last in the standings at 3-11. They are 2-5 on the road but are the 75th-best team shooting the three ball at 35.8%. They are tough defensively and record 8.3 steals per game as well. The Yellow Jackets may attempt to bank on their defensive abilities in a potentially low scoring game.
Georgia Tech has two major contributors offensively that stand out over the remainder of the roster. Michael Devoe leads the team with 18.6 points and 3.3 assists everytime on the court. Jordan Usher is second at 14.6 points and a team-leading 6.4 rebounds.
Pitt is favored by 3 points at home in Saturday’s latest odds.
Pitt is 15-12 against the spread and was on the favorable end the past three wins.
The over/under for the game is set at 130.5 points and Pitt is -155 on the money line.
Georgia Tech is 7-15-2 ATS and has gone over the estimated total points 11 times. The Yellow Jackets are +130 on the money line.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Georgia Tech and Pitt matchup will air on the ACC Network Saturday night at 7 p.m. Mike Monaco and Randolph Childress have the call.
The action can also be heard live on 93.7 The Fan.
Saturday’s game marks the beginning of the final three home games for the Panthers. Pitt hosts Miami at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Duke on March 1 at 8 p.m.