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Pitt Basketball

Takeaways from Pitt’s 21-Point Victory at Louisville

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Pitt defeated the only winless conference opponent in Louisville Wednesday night to improve to 13-6 overall and 6-2 in ACC play. The Panthers earned their first victory in Louisville since the 2005-2006 campaign. Riding a two-game winning streak, Pitt sits in a four-way tie for second place in the conference. Here are five major takeaways from the Panthers’ 75-54 win against the Cardinals.

Sharing is Caring

Ball movement and sharing the basketball played a large role in the Panthers’ 21-point victory. Pitt registered 21 total assists against the Cardinals led by 11 from Jamarius Burton. Nelly Cummings and Nike Sibande also posted three apiece while Louisville as a team only recorded six assists. 

Pitt exceeded its norm of over 14 assists per game, as Burton and Cummings both average 4.5 assists each contest. More than anything, the display exemplifies the chemistry continuing to build for Jeff Capel’s team. El Ellis recorded five of the six Louisville assists as the Cardinals shot 33.9% overall in the loss. The Panthers shot 49.1% for the game and 41.2% from three while committing 13 turnovers to Louisville’s 17.

Doubling Down

Burton posted his first double-double of the season in impressive fashion. Entering action scoring 16.7 points per game, the graduate guard totaled his lowest-scoring figure since Dec. 20, 2022, at Syracuse (nine points). Burton found a different way to fill the stat sheet, dishing out more assists (11) than points scored (10).

Recording seven assists on three separate occasions, Burton continues his push to becoming an All-ACC selection. The veteran leader is eighth in the ACC in points (16.3) and third in field-goals made (6.2) while pacing the Panthers in minutes (33.2). Burton joins Pittsburgh Sports Now reporter George Michalowski to co-host Just Buckets and detail his playing career as well as conversations with teammates.

Spreading the Wealth

Greg Elliott played his best game as a Panther posting his highest point total (23) in a Pitt uniform to lead all players. The graduate student previously of Marquette shot 9-of-12 and converted on 5-of-8 three-pointers. He also totaled four rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes. 

Nike Sibande shined from behind the arc, draining 4-of-5 triples before the halftime break. Coming off the bench, Sibande ignited the Panthers’ offense into a 17-2 run which Louisville could hardly overcome. Sibande dealt with foul trouble but finished with 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists. The redshirt senior recorded his most made threes of the season and is now shooting 34.8% from deep. 

Guillermo Diaz Graham played fantastic in 19 minutes off the bench, providing Pitt quality minutes on both ends of the floor. He finished with six points and eight rebounds, four boards coming on the offensive and defensive sides. He added a block and a triple to his efforts. Diaz Graham dove for loose balls and battled tough inside. 

Elliott, Sibande, and Diaz Graham stepped up as Nelly Cummings and Blake Hinson experienced off nights shooting the basketball. The duo combined to shoot 3-of-19 for 11 points as Hinson shot 2-of-11 and Cummings 1-of-8. They also added a collective 3-of-13 from three. Deploying enough depth where different players can step up on any given night has been a key component of the Panthers’ turnaround, especially in the heart of ACC competition. 

Injured Wings

When examining the Cardinals and their inability to take flight in ACC play, the team has only finished two of their eight conference games within 10 points. Louisville put together stints where it looked like a decent team capable of stealing a game from a tournament contender, especially at home. 

First-year head coach Kenny Payne is feeling the pain of the worst Louisville team in recent memory and a challenging road ahead to turn the program around. The transfer portal can certainly help, but non-conference losses to Wright State and Appalachian State – both losses being by one point at home – are not a great conversation point. 

Louisville does have a few capable players commanding the team. Ellis is a consistent scorer at 17.8 points per game and scored a team-high 18 against the Panthers. Forward Jae’Lyn Withers grabbed seven rebounds to coincide with eight points on 2-of-6 shooting. JJ Traynor added 14 points and six rebounds off the bench. The Cardinals play Boston College, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and Florida State before entering Pittsburgh and the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

No Letdowns

Pitt is by far the best team in the ACC in regard to covering the spread. A 9.5-point favorite against Louisville, the Panthers squashed the number and more than doubled it. Capel and company have prevented a ‘bad loss’ at every opportunity. Pitt is undefeated in Quad 3 (1-0) and Quad 4 (6-0) wins while holding its own in Quad 1 (3-2). 

Taking care of business against the likes of Alabama State, Fairleigh Dickinson, William & Mary, Sacred Heart, and North Florida may sound like walks in the park leading up to the season but present an opportunity to slip and hit the reset button. Panther fans are all too familiar with home losses to The Citadel (2021-22), Saint Francis (2020-21), and Nicholls State (2019-20) that helped derail the season.

The Panthers did not have one of those ‘let down’ games against an opponent they should handle with relative ease. The 2022-23 squad owns substantial talent compared to the previous three campaigns contributing to the new-found success. As tournament hopes arise for Capel’s best team in five seasons, Pitt can continue to secure winnable games and grab important victories like North Carolina and Virginia to pad its resume come March. 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
7 days ago

Might have missed it above…Burton also stuffed the stat sheet with 3 Steals, which directly led to 2 Pitt FG’s and 1 3 point FG, totaling 7 points.

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