On Wednesday night, Pitt has an opportunity to show off on the national stage that it has picked up right where it left off last season.
The Panthers will take on the SEC’s Florida Gators in round one of the Preseason NIT event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Let’s dive into the game preview for Wednesday’s matchup.
The Panthers are 4-0 and have blown out every opponent that they have faced in the early-season slate. Now comes the real test.
On Wednesday night, Pitt begins a streak of five-straight high-major opponents with Florida on the schedule.
Blake Hinson, Bub Carrington, and Ishmael Leggett have been stars in the first four games. Can they keep it up against tougher opponents? We know Hinson is capable, as he led the team in scoring last season. Leggett, while at Rhode Island a year ago, played solid against high-major competition. Check out his stats in those games below.
Kansas State – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists
Boston College – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Providence – 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Can Carrington keep it up? The rookie has produced at an elite rate so far in his collegiate career, averaging 18 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. He has won both ACC Rookie of the Week awards and has even appeared on mock drafts and NBA Prospect rankings.
The Gators are led by Todd Golden, formerly the head coach at San Francisco. Golden’s team is powered by guards Will Richard, Zyon Pullin, Walter Clayton, and Riley Kugel, and has a strong front court led by Tyrese Samuel and Micah Handlogten.
Todd Golden (2nd season)
In year one, Golden’s Gators finished with a record of 16-17 (9-9 SEC).
This year, the Gators are 3-1 with wins over Loyola Maryland, Florida A&M, and Florida State (by 21 points).
#0 Zyon Pullin – 6’4 G
UC Riverside transfer who has played one game after serving a three-game suspension. Pullin participated in the Portsmouth Invitational in the spring but then decided to return to the collegiate level and enter the portal. His return after playing in the event caused a three-game suspension. In his first game for the Gators, he dropped 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
#1 – Walter Clayton Jr. – 6’2 G – 13.8 PPG – 5 APG
The Iona transfer has filled up the stat sheet in his four games since transferring to Florida this past offseason. Clayton is a 26% three-point shooter.
#2 Riley Kugel – 6’5 G – 13.8 PPG – 37% 3FG
#4 Tyrese Samuel – 6’10, 240 F – 12.3 PPG – 8.5 RPG
Samuel played four seasons for Seton Hall before joining the Gators this offseason.
Florida is giving up 70.5 points per game to its opponents (ranking No. 188 nationally). The Gators are shooting 49% from the field (No. 57 nationally) and have hit 29 threes at a 33% clip (No. 157 nationally) this year. They also average 45 rebounds per game (No. 19) and 15.5 assists per game (No. 96).
The Gators are ranked as the No. 37 team in the nation per Kenpom.com, just ahead of Pitt (No. 40).
Pitt Vs. Florida will start at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Florida is a 2.5-point favorite, via DraftKings Sportsbook (Tuesday night 10 p.m.). The over/under is hovering around 157.5 points.
You can find Wednesday’s game on ESPN2. Kevin Brown and Fran Fraschilla will be on the call, per Pitt’s game notes.
The game will be live on 93.7 The Fan as well.