Pitt rebounded from a treacherous first half Sunday afternoon hosting Alabama State. The Panthers trailed by three after 20 minutes but outscored the Hornets 42-20 in the second half to secure a 73-54 win.
Pitt welcomes Fairleigh Dickinson to the Petersen Events Center Tuesday night after snapping a three-game losing streak.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (2-3) matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson (3-3).
From the Opening Tip
Pitt enters the second of a five-game home stand looking for a faster start. Trailing 34-31 at halftime in their last game against Alabama State, Pitt struggled shooting from the floor at 33.3%, making 11-of-33 first-half shots. The Panthers hoisted poor shots from behind the three-point arc, totaling 3-for-15 (20%) triples overall. The Panthers did lead 10-2 to begin against a winless team losing by an average of 30.25 points per game, but Alabama State countered with a 28-8 run after regrouping at a media timeout.
The script flipped in the second half as the Panthers were determined not to be upset on their home floor. Pitt responded by shooting over 50% from the field, making 15-of-29 (51.7%) baskets including 7-of-14 (50%) three-pointers. The team rallied behind 21 points and five rebounds from Blake Hinson and 17 points contributed by Nike Sibande, despite shooting 5-for-14 (35.7%).
Pitt overcame 13 total turnovers and shut down Alabama State defensively in the second half. The Hornets shot over 46% in the first half but only registered a 24.3% clip in the second including a disastrous 1-for-13 (7.7%) from downtown. Starting strong and maintaining success can create the season’s first winning streak. FDU has the ability to score out of the gates and staying out of foul trouble is another important aspect.
Big Men, Big Trouble
The Panthers are going to go as far as the forwards and centers take them. Hinson has been a huge asset to Capel’s squad and deepens the roster of assets to deploy. John Hugley returned from a one-game absence and nearly recorded a double-double in points (10) and rebounds (9). Jorge Diaz Graham totaled nine points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes while Guillermo only played seven minutes and turned the ball over three times.
Hinson, Hugley, the Diaz Graham twins, and Federiko Fekeriko all contribute valuable roles including a presence in the paint and the ability to block shots. Not missing a beat being absent from live college basketball action the past two years, Hinson leads the team in points (16.8) and tied in rebounds (6) with Jamarius Burton. Federiko saw a decrease in minutes the past three matchups, partly due to the emergence of the twins and Hugley’s return, only scoring three points in three games.
Having a plethora of big men at your disposal is a good thing for Capel, especially when size will especially matter in ACC play. Pitt out-rebounded Alabama State 47-36 and outmuscled a smaller Hornets team, something obtainable to do against Fairleigh Dickinson. The Panthers are 2-1 overall at the Petersen Events Center this year. The Panthers defeated FDU in the team’s only other appearance and Pitt is 36-2 against Northeast Conference (NEC) opponents.
Knight in Need of Shining Armour
Fairleigh Dickinson struggled mightily during the 2021-22 campaign, winning four of its 26 games. The team is one win away from tying last year’s win total, defeating Mercy (N.Y.), Manhattan, and VMI in the first six games of 2022-23. The Panthers are arguably FDU’s toughest test of the young season, but the Knights did put together a fierce fight in Chicago on opening night, losing 88-82 in overtime to recent tournament staple Loyola Chicago.
The Knights are putting together high-scoring totals and distributing the basketball. FDU is tied for 59th in the country in pace (73) and 87th in three-point percentage (46.9%). This parlays with a high team total at the free-throw line (75.7%) compared to a 69.8% clip by Capel’s Panthers. Led by head coach Tobin Anderson in his first season, FDU averages three additional assists than Pitt (15.2-12), two steals (7.7-5.6), and an offensive rating of 56th in the country (116.1).
FDU rebounds well on the offensive glass, ranked tied for 30th in basketball on the offensive glass grabbing 12.2 per game. Starting guard Demetre Roberts paces the team in minutes (33.7), points (18.8), and assists (5.2). Grant Singleton (15.7 points) and Heru Bligen (15 points) are two other backcourt players to keep an eye on attempting to pull off the upset. Bligen and forward Sean Moore are active participants on the glass averaging over six rebounds per contest. It will not be an easy fight for the Panthers against an improving Fairleigh Dickson squad coming off of a close win.
Pitt is favored by 14.5 points in Tuesday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The line has been fairly steady since opening. Pitt finished the 2021-22 season 15-17 against the spread. The Panthers are 1-3-1 ATS this year, according to Covers.com, and failed to cover facing Alabama State.
The over/under for the game is set at 153 points and Pitt is -1250 on the money line with Fairleigh Dickinson at +800. FDU is 1-4 ATS and 0-2 overall on the road.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Pitt-Fairleigh Dickinson game will air on the ACC Network at 8:30 p.m. Dave Leno and Tim Welsh have the call from The Pete in the final game before Thanksgiving. The matchup can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt continues the homestand Friday at 7 p.m. hosting William & Mary.