Winners of back-to-back road games, the Panthers return to the Petersen Events Center against Florida State. Pitt defeated Georgia Tech by 11 and Louisville by 21 to go two out of three on the road trip following an eight-point loss to Duke.
Roc’n the Royal for a Saturday matinee.
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) January 21, 2023
Here are five things to know ahead of the Pitt Panthers’ (13-6, 6-2 ACC) matchup against the Florida State Seminoles (6-13, 4-4 ACC).
The Panthers are playing with a new-found confidence not seen previously in the Jef Capel era. Pitt is off to its best start to ACC play through eight games since joining for the 2013-14 campaign. It was evident during Pitt’s blowout victory against the Cardinals Wednesday night as the team banked on a 17-2 run to spark the offensive attack. The main contributor was Nike Sibande, connecting on four consecutive threes to pull away early in the first half.
In his first year leading Louisville, head coach Kenny Payne commanded his players to close out quicker on three-point attempts. Identified later as Sibande, the shooter commented, “he didn’t get there, coach.”
Lol It’s all ❤️ coach ! https://t.co/T1HVOvRnWY
— Nike Sibande (@sibande_nike) January 19, 2023
Sibande dealt with foul trouble that prevented him from making a further impact on the offensive end. He shot 4-of-6 overall, all threes, and scored in double figures for the third consecutive game. It also marked a double-digit scoring performance for the fourth time in the last five games. Sibande’s confidence off the bench was infectious for the Panthers, defeating a winless ACC team in lopsided fashion.
Missing Hugley on the Boards
The Diaz Graham brothers are 3,630 miles away from home, but Oakland is becoming a second home in its own right. PSN’s George Michaelowski spoke to Guillermo about coming to Pittsburgh and the impact basketball has had on his life. The 7-foot, 205-pound freshman from Canary Islands, Spain spoke about the toughness needed to succeed in the ACC.
“I think it’s way more than I expected,” Diaz Graham said about the physicality of ACC play. “Of course, when you see the big guys on the TV, you expect, you know, ok, it’s going to be hard. But it’s not only the big guys that is the one that’s pushing. It’s like, every one of the guys that is on the floor is pushing you, and even if that’s a five-eleven guy, he’s going to push you, he’s going to go for your knees.”
Knowing his family is supporting him and his brother overseas is a critical aspect for Guillermo. The former IMG Academy forward played possibly his best game in a Panther uniform against Louisville, collecting six points and eight rebounds with four coming on the offensive and defensive ends.
“…some of the games are at 2 a.m. over there, so they support us from there. My whole family,” Guillermo said. “ I’ve got my mama sending the links for the family group, and my grandfather, my grandparents watching the games too. So it’s pretty cool.”
The seventh episode of Just Buckets with Jamarius Burton and hosted by Pittsburgh Sports Now‘s George Michalowski featuring KJ Marshall and Vason Stevenson is now available.
Going Cold in Florida
The Seminoles have taken a step back from their recent string of near-top-of-the-conference success. Finishing at 11-4 in the ACC as recently as 2020-21, Florida State started off sluggish in non-conference play. The team lost to Stetson (84-73) in the season opener as well as Troy (79-72) and Siena (80-63). Florida State has been better of late following the surprising start and shook off a two-game losing streak in an 84-71 victory against Notre Dame.
FSU is 13th in the ACC in scoring (69.5 ppg) and 11th in field-goal percentage (43.7%). Three-point shooting is part of the ‘Noles strengths, connecting on 43.7% of shots to place sixth in the conference. Pitt and Florida State are tied for 10th in conference play averaging 5.63 steals per game. Normally a team dependent on height and being physical inside, the Seminoles are tied for 309th in the country averaging 19.4 rebounds per game and also totaling 7.3 offensive boards per contest, almost two fewer than Pitt.
Four players score in double figures for Leonard Hamilton’s team, led by a team-high 14.4 points and 8.1 rebounds from guard Matthew Cleveland. Cleveland paced the team in rebounds with 16 plus added 14 points in the win over the Fighting Irish. Forward Cam’Ron Fletcher is also heavily involved on both ends, totaling 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. Guards Darin Green (14.1) and Caleb Mills (13.2) both contribute heavily in offensive sets.
Pitt is favored by 7.5 points in Saturday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Panthers are 14-4-1 ATS this year, according to Covers.com. Pitt is the ACC’s best team covering the spread by a wide margin and has covered the past three games. Georgia Tech is 9-10 ATS and the over has been reached in 10 of 19 opportunities.
The over/under for the game is set at 144 points. The Panthers are -345 on the money line with the Seminoles at +265. The over has hit in 12 of the Panthers’ 19 but not the previous two games.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Pitt-Florida State matchup will air on the ACC Network beginning at 3 p.m. Jay Alter and Malcolm Huckaby have the call from the Pete, where the Panthers are 8-2 this season. The game will also be broadcast live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt meets Wake Forest Wednesday and Miami next Saturday as all three teams are currently deadlocked in a four-way tie with Virginia for second in the ACC.