On Friday night, Pitt, a ten-point underdog, went into Raleigh and looked like the better team all night in an upset victory over NC State, 68-60.
The Panthers, now 6-3 on the year, won their fifth-straight game, and second-straight road game after dominating Northwestern last week. So how did they do it?
The first answer is pretty clear: Jamarius Burton.
Burton dropped a career-high 24 points, extending his streak at least 14 points to eight games in a row with ease. The graduate student guard hit nine of his 14 field goals, including his first six shots of the second half, and all six of his free throws. He grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists in the win, too.
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) December 3, 2022
The leader stepped up when his team needed him most. Burton shined in the beginning, middle, and end of the win, propelling the Panthers to a 6-3 record and a second-straight top-50 road win.
PANTHERS WINNING IN DIFFERENT WAYS
This year’s Pitt team has talented guards, ball handlers, shooters, wings, forwards, and bigs. Down low, it has a mixture of a 6-foot-11 rim runner and a 6-foot-9 powerful big. It has catch-and-shoot wings. It has do-it-yourself, creating guards. It has distributors. It has a mid-range expert. It has leaders. It has versatility.
The Panthers are 1-0 in the ACC, 2-0 on the road, and have won each of their last five. And perhaps the most intriguing part of it for Pitt is that they have won games in many different ways through these nine matchups.
Below are all of the players that have scored in double figures for Pitt so far this year, with the number of games in which each have scored 10+ in parenthesis.
Hinson (8), Burton (8), Elliott (4), Sibande (4), Hugley (3), Cummings (3), J. Diaz-Graham (1), Federiko (1),
Having that many players that can score is a huge improvement for the Panthers, who are looking to make a run in this year’s ACC. Burton has been elite. Hinson has produced at an all-ACC level. Elliott has caught fire. Sibande has gotten better and better. Hugley hasn’t scratched the surface yet this year, but after watching him last year, we know he can make it to an elite level inside. The list goes on. Pitt has a deep rotation and plenty of different options on the offensive end.
FEDE SOLID OFF THE BENCH
Coming into this season, not many people knew how much of an impact Federiko Federiko would make for this Pitt team.
He looked solid in Pitt’s exhibitions, but the JuCo big joined a team whose best player was its big man, John Hugley. However, after Hugley started the season with an injury and has since struggled to produce offensively, Federiko has found himself out on the floor often, even in Pitt’s conference-opening win.
Federiko played 25 minutes to Hugley’s 14 in the win, scoring six points on 3-for-5 shooting inside and grabbing two rebounds. Through some growing pains, the sophomore has done his job off the bench, coming in and cleaning up the glass and finishing above the rim. He can run the floor, block shots, and throw down alley-oops, which have all proved to be valuable skills so far this year for Pitt while Hugley has struggled and while the guards have excelled.
KEPT THE ‘PACK’S SHOOTERS QUIET
Pitt held NC State, a team that was previously averaging 83 points per game, to just 60 points on Friday.
The Panthers silenced NC State’s leading scorer on the year Jarkel Joiner. Joiner missed all 12 of his shots (0-7 3FG) en route to a one-point, five-turnover effort. Wing Jack Clark also missed all of his field-goal attempts, going 0 for 8 from the field, including 0 for 7 from three.
After two early threes, Pitt limited Wolfpack star and projected NBA draft prospect Terquavion Smith to just nine points during the rest of the game to finish with 15.
2-0 IN THEIR LAST TWO
Heading into Pitt’s game against Northwestern, PSN outlined Pitt’s three important early-season road games.
After dominating the Wildcats in Evanston, Pitt has now started the crucial road streak with a 2-0 record, picking up an ever-important conference win along the way. The final game of the three-game stretch comes on Wednesday at Vanderbilt, where the Panthers will face Jerry Stackhouse’s Commodores (3-4) before heading back home.
That game will tip off at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Will Pitt advance to 7-3 and 3-0 on the road?