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Pitt Basketball

Takeaways: Kunkel, Nunge Dominate Early to Set Tone for Musketeers in Win Over Pitt



GREENSBORO, N.C. — In the first half of Sunday’s No. 3 Xavier Vs. No. 11 Pitt matchup, Xavier’s Adam Kunkel and Jack Nunge took control of the game, combining for 29 points in the frame. 

Kunkel hit all five of his three-point attempts in an absolute shooting clinic. That marks only the second time this season that Kunkel had hit five threes or more. On the inside, Nunge overpowered Pitt’s bigs down low to the tune of 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the first half alone. 

While Pitt improved its defense on the two in the second half, the first-half roll that Xavier was on — paired with timely shooting and stout defense in the second — sent the Panthers home for the year and concluded year five of the Jeff Capel era.

“Xavier has been an elite offensive team all year,” Capel said. “So, again, I just thought they were really good offensively. They were moving with great pace. They made seven threes in the first half. The ball had energy. I think 17 of their 19 field goals — or they had about — I think they had about 14 of 16 field goals were assisted on in the first half. So that’s who they’ve been. We couldn’t disrupt their rhythm.”


While Xavier punished Pitt from all over the court offensively, the Panthers struggled to score in the first half.

Pitt’s Nelly Cummings and Greg Elliott couldn’t quite get hot, hitting just one of their first 11 shots combined. The pair finished the game with a combined 4-for-20 shooting day, scoring 15 points between the two of them. Burton and Hinson paced the Panthers with 18 and 16 points, respectively, and Guillermo Diaz-Graham followed with 11. 

Pitt’s Federiko Federiko was limited to just a couple of possessions in Sunday’s game due to his ankle injury.

“When Federiko came in the game, he was limping as he was running up and down the court,” Capel said. “I’m not going to put him in a position where he could cause any further damage, so I made that decision not to play him any more the rest of the game.”

With Pitt’s shooters getting off to a tough start, as well as Xavier’s stars shining early, the Panthers were in bad shape heading down the stretch. Late in the game, Pitt gained a bit of momentum and gave Xavier one last push, but it was too little, too late as the Musketeers advanced with the win.

“Obviously, it didn’t work out well for us,” Capel continued. “We lost, but I thought we kept fighting. We had a chance down the stretch. We got it to ten. We had a couple of really good looks that we just missed that we could have put a little more game pressure on them. We started fouling. We had a guy that hadn’t been a good free-throw shooter all year, and he missed some, but he stepped up and made some for them.”


With Pitt’s loss, the college careers of Jamarius Burton, Nelly Cummings, Nike Sibande, Greg Elliott, and Aidan Fisch all came to an end on Sunday.

Cummings finishes his college career with 1,500+ points, 380+ assists, and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Burton, with 1,500+ points, 470+ assists, and first team All-ACC honors from this season. Elliott ends with over 1,000 career points, 380 rebounds, and 170 three pointers, including a career-high 77 this season. Lastly, Sibande — the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year — caps off his career with 1,800+ points and 670+ rebounds.

“It’s going to be amazing when we can bring our kids back to Pittsburgh,” Sibande said. “We’ve got a banner now saying we made March Madness, so that’s something we can bring them back to and show them. I wish we could have made it farther, but it’s been an amazing experience to be here for sure.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Mon Valley Mike
Mon Valley Mike
8 hours ago

No Capel press conf video?

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