The Panthers finished the Vivid Seats Legends Classic 0-2 in Brooklyn, New York.
Pitt struggled mightily in the second half against Michigan and lost by four to VCU in the tournament’s consolation game. Jeff Capel’s team returns to the Petersen Events Center Sunday afternoon facing Alabama State.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (1-3) matchup against Alabama State (0-4).
All the Little Things
Pitt begins a five-game home stand looking to improve on the little nuances in determining a win or loss. The Panthers are tied for 329th in the country in turnovers (16.3) and tied for 337th in three-point percentage (25.5%). The team has also dealt with frequent foul trouble for Blake Hinson and Federiko Federiko.
“The thing we have to do better is play without fouling,” Capel said after the VCU loss. “That’s the main thing. Someone mentioned the foul trouble in the first half. That disjoints us, it gets us out of rhythm.”
Pitt has struggled to do the little things necessary to secure victory against tough opponents. West Virginia and Michigan, two potential tournament teams, and VCU presented challenges the Panthers could not overcome due to fouls and turnovers. Pitt is shooting just over 40% through four games. The Panthers are 7-0 all-time against teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).
The Diaz-Graham twins played their best games off the bench against the Rams. In 30 minutes, Guillermo totaled seven points and seven rebounds. Jorge scored 10 and added five rebounds in 20 minutes. The 6-foot-11 forwards brought a spark to the court.
They came in and gave great energy,” Capel said. “Played hard on both sides of the ball. Made some big plays for us. But the main thing was that they just brought energy and it really ignited the rest of our guys.”
The Panthers are expected to have John Hugley back Sunday, according to CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein. Hugley played 22 minutes against Michigan in his only appearance this year, contributing nine points and one rebound. Adding Hugley to a more confident pairing of the Diaz-Graham brothers, Hinson, and Federiko give the Panthers depth in the frontcourt.
Looking to Sting
The Alabama State Hornets have not won a game yet to begin the 2022-23 season. Hailing from the SWAC, Alabama State has put together four double-digit losses. The team lost to UAB (by 41 points), USC (38), Pepperdine (29), and San Jose State (13).
In a way, the team is improving. Each loss has been by less and less of a differential. Alabama State is not a big team and the Panthers should have success on the glass, a catalyst for Pitt with impact forwards. The team does score the 41st most points of anyone in the country, averaging 74.2.
Guard T.J. Madlock leads the team averaging 14.8 points per game shooting 39% from the field. Isaiah Range is another impactful guard in the rotation. Range averages 29.5 minutes per game and 10 points but only shoots at a 30% clip.
Pitt is favored by 21 points in Sunday afternoon’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The line shifted from 20.5 points at the opening mark.
Pitt finished the 2021-22 season 15-17 against the spread. The Panthers are 2-2 ATS this year after a few lines preheated VCU by 4.5 before tip and the Panthers losing by four. Alabama State was 19-11 against the spread last year.
The over/under for the game is set at 144.5 points and Pitt is -3500 on the money line with Alabama State at +1300.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Pitt-Alabama State game will air on ACC Network Extra at 2p.m. Jason Earle and Julius Page have the call from The Pete. The matchup can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt hosts Fairleigh Dickinson Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in the final game before Thanksgiving.