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Pitt Basketball

Five Takeaways: John Hugley Continues to Prove He Can Go Up Against Anyone

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PITTSBURGH — In Tuesday night’s 86-56 loss to Duke, Pitt struggled to keep up with the Blue Devils on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, the Panthers were led by leading scorer John Hugley, who delivered a team-high 19 points, scoring at least ten points for the 21st time this season.

In the first half, Hugley seemed a bit hesitant inside, scoring just five points on 2-for-5 shooting. The Blue Devils were not double-teaming him, and at halftime, Hugley, with the help of his coaches, realized that. Next, he came out ready to make the adjustment in the second frame.

“It was interesting, because I felt like he wasn’t aggressive,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said about Hugley. “It was almost like he was anticipating the double, and one of the things we told him at halftime, was, ‘They’re not doubling you, just go. Go right through them. Like, go. Don’t hesitate. And I thought he did a much better job of that in the second half of being aggressive and not waiting, just making quick moves. So I was really pleased with that.”

Hugley came out in attack mode in the second half, scoring 14 points on 60% shooting. He drained a three, drew a foul, grabbed two more rebounds, and dished out another assist in that second frame. On top of once again posting big numbers from the five spot, Hugley did it against some of the best, most talented defenders in the ACC in Duke’s Mark Williams and Theo John.

“It was a regular matchup,” Hugley said about the challenge of Duke’s bigs inside. “Just like facing anybody else we play. Regular matchup, just with another jersey on.”

DEFENSE STRUGGLED, BUT HAVE TO CREDIT DUKE’S TALENT

In the win on Tuesday, Duke’s star-studded freshman class of AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels, and Paolo Banchero combined for 60 points, which would have been enough to beat Pitt’s 56 as a team.

Keels led the way with 27, showing off a smooth shooting touch from just about everywhere on the court and also making all of the smart plays without a single turnover in the game. Banchero followed with 21, displaying an NBA-ready skill set that has had scouts and executives eager all year. Lastly, Griffin added 12 points and seven rebounds in the effort, sneaking by Pitt’s defenders with smooth dribble moves and efficient footwork as well as draining a three.

Right from the jump, Duke found open men around the perimeter due to slow switches and rotations by the Pitt defense, specifically the guards. Krzyzewski’s squad drained four of its first five three-point attempts, taking an early 16-3 lead and never looking back.

In the second half, Pitt’s defense allowed the Blue Devils to shoot 70.4%, as they drained 19 of their 27 shots, including 5 of their 11 three pointers.

“I thought it was a little bit of both, I thought it was a mix of both,” Capel said when asked whether there were more defensive breakdowns or if Duke’s success was based on its exceptional talent. “At times we did have some breakdowns, and when you’re talented like that, they make you pay, but then, they are really talented, and they just made some really big-time individual one-on-one plays.”

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE BEST

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, the NCAA’s all-time coaching leader in wins, coached for the last time in the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday, as he is set to retire after this season.

Krzyzewski and Pitt head coach Jeff Capel have had a tight-knit relationship for over 30 years, as ‘Coach K’ recruited Capel to play for him at Duke, coached him there, and later coached alongside him with Capel serving as an assistant coach.

“It was weird, man,” Capel said about preparing for the last game against his mentor. “It was very strange, because as I got here tonight, and when we went in and did the pregame talk with our guys, I went back to the little room where I sat, and I texted my wife, and I said, ‘for some reason, I just got really emotional.’ I didn’t really understand it. Obviously when I came out and saw him, and then seeing the video and the presentation to him, it was very, very emotional. It’s weird to think that the guy that I’ve known as the Duke coach basically my whole life, it’s the only coach I’ve known at Duke, that this would be the last time that I was on the floor with him. As a player, coach, coaching against him. It was a little bit surreal, so it was emotional.”

On behalf of Pitt, Capel gifted Krzyzewski a steel statue of a fist before the game.

Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jeff Capel March 1, 2022 David Hague/PSN

The fist is a staple of the Duke program and Krzyzewski’s coaching and leading principles. It includes five fingers, and five different phrases: Care, Pride, Trust, Communication, and Collective Responsibility.

“It means a lot,” Capel said about the fist’s meaning. “I have believed in it ever since I was 17 years old, and that’s what I said to him when I gave it to him. I committed to Duke as a junior, when I was 17, and I believe in every word of it, I use it in my home, it means a lot to me. I think they are words certainly that have helped make that program, I think it’s the premier program in college basketball, but more importantly it’s helped all of us that have worn that jersey, I think it’s helped us become better men, so that’s what it means to me.”

APPRECIATING BURTON’S CONSISTENCY

Jamarius Burton, as mentioned earlier in the story, finished Tuesday night’s game with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Despite missing multiple games in the beginning of the season, Burton is leading the team in double-digit scoring efforts. The guard has scored at least ten points in 22 games this season, which is a team-high, even above Hugley, the team’s leading scorer.

Pittsburgh Panthers guard Jamarius Burton (11) March 1, 2022 David Hague/PSN

Burton is averaging the most minutes per game on the team, at 34.9, as well as the second-most points per game on the team, at 12.8.

To be clear, Burton does still have one year of eligibility remaining, and if he should decide to return to Pitt next year, can continue to be a stable leader and scorer for the Panthers.

ONE MORE CHANCE BEFORE TOURNAMENT TIME

Pitt has just one more regular season game left on the schedule, as it will travel to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

The Panthers already played Notre Dame earlier this season, losing by just one point back in late December at the Petersen Events Center. In that game, Paul Atkinson, Prentiss Hubb, Blake Wesley, and Dane Goodwin all scored in double digits and led the Irish to a one-point victory.

Pitt Drops Tough Last-Second 68-67 Decision to Notre Dame

Pitt also had four players in double figures in that matchup, with Hugley leading the way dropping 18 points and Burton right behind him with 15. If Pitt wants to snap its three-game losing streak and head into the ACC Tournament with a win, those players and the rest of the squad will have to pick up their offensive production and defeat the Irish.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Paul mcgrath
Paul mcgrath
8 months ago

I’m not sure how important burton is to the success of this team. They have nobody to replace mo guye and are still without a point guard, unless they fill those 2 positions with acc level performers, then next year will be much of the same. Capel is obviously not a great coach, the hope was that he would be able to bring in elite talent to make up for that, but 5 recruiting classes later and still not a single recruit in the top 70 has chosen pitt. I hate to look into the past, but Jaime Dixon was… Read more »

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul mcgrath

Jamie is thriving at a tougher job in a much tougher league. It’s a shame that he was shown the door. We have had two substantially inferior successors trying to fill his shoes. Pitt has become basically a laughingstock.

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

He’s thriving so much that TCU was ready to fire him before this season. He rebuilt his team through the portal (something Capel will attempt to do) & is having a successful season.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
8 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo Grimm

Unlike Capel, who can’t even recruit the Portal to get ACC level players. 11-19. Soon to be 11-21. Not even remotely competitive. Jamie has fewer resources in a tougher league. Oh and his winning percentage at Pitt was .727. With less support

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Gueye & Burton are ACC level players. Capel got both from the portal in the same off season. TCU has deep pocket boosters who recently pumped over $100 million into facility upgrades so saying that Dixon has fewer resources is insane.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
8 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo Grimm

Yeah they’re ACC level. The level that gets you 12th place. STFU loser

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
8 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo Grimm

The $100 million upgrade was for the football stadium in 2020 you illiterate moron. The only thing insane on this board are your pathetic musings. Loser

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

The Daniel-Meyer Coliseum underwent a $72 million renovation in 2016 & was renamed the Ed & Rae Schollmaier Coliseum. You really should do some research before you’re confronted with facts & made to look silly. Also you might want to address your anger issues Sir.

Felton, Family & Friends
Felton, Family & Friends
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul mcgrath

Burton is more valuable than Okudale or any of the rest. Okudale scores a few points, alot during garbage time….but really adds nothing to the team. Shooting less than 40% from the field, less than 30% from 3, not a good FT shooter and his assist to turnover ratio is dreadful. It all starts with the Point Guard and Pitt does not have one.

Dukes

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