November is finally here.
On November 1 at 7 p.m., Pitt will take on Pitt-Johnstown in an exhibition contest at the Petersen Events Center, marking the Panthers’ final matchup before the regular season begins on Nov. 6 against NC A&T. Let’s dive into the game preview for Wednesday night’s exhibition.
Pitt has played UPJ three times in exhibition contests, and is 3-0. The Panthers last beat UPJ on Nov. 1, 2018 by a score of 78-59.
Pitt-Johnstown has four current players that are from Pittsburgh, Vinnie Cugini (WPIAL All-Time Leading Scorer at Aquinas), Grant Timmerson (North Allegheny), Ty Bilinsky (Norwin), and Colin Cote (Peters).
UPJ competes in NCAA Division Two in the PSAC. It finished last season with an impressive 20-11 record (15-7 conference play). Only one of its top three scorers returns this year, as Andrew Shull (6-foot guard) is set to return for his redshirt sophomore season. Shull hit 52 threes last season at an impressive 43% clip.
The Mountain Cats’ head coach is the legendary Bob Rukavina, who has been at the helm since 1989. Rukavina was inducted into the UPJ Hall of Fame this past year and surpassed the 500-win mark back in 2020. He has led the Mountain Cats to four-straight trips to the PSAC Conference Tournament Quarterfinals. He has a career record of 548-373.
The Panthers are looking for another preseason victory on Wednesday night before heading into the season opener on Nov. 6 against D-1 NC A&T. Pitt has taken care of business so far this offseason, winning two exhibition games over Spanish teams on its foreign tour and winning a closed scrimmage over Georgetown last week by a score of 78-64. The Panthers shot 50 percent from the field in that scrimmage, with Ishmael Leggett (Rhode Island transfer) leading the way with 20 points and freshman Carlton Carrington adding 16.
Pitt has a new-look roster this year, headlined by three transfers and four freshmen. Let’s start with the transfers: Leggett, a 6-foot-3 guard, joins the Panthers from Rhode Island after averaging 16 points per game. Zack Austin is a 6-foot-7 wing who joins Pitt from High Point, where he averaged 14 points per game each of his last two seasons. Mike Hueitt Jr. was the latest addition to the roster, joining Pitt from Division Two Catawba. Huiett Jr. will wear No. 8, Leggett will wear No. 5, and Austin No. 55.
6-foot-3 guard Jaland Lowe and 6-foot-5 guard Carlton Carrington will lead Pitt’s freshman class this year. Both guards are expected to play hefty roles alongside Leggett in the back court. In addition, the Panthers brought in Marlon Barnes Jr. out of Brush HS in Cleveland and Papa Amadou Kante, a four-star big. Amadou Kante will miss this season due to a knee injury suffered in practice weeks before the season.
The game will not be televised, so check out @MichalowskiCBB for live updates on Twitter/X and come back to pittsburghsportsnow.com after the game for a recap.