Pittsburgh rallies past No. 11 Virginia 68-65

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Blake Hinson scored 16 points, Jamarius Burton added 15 and Pittsburgh rallied past No. 11 Virginia 68-65 on Tuesday night.

The Panthers (11-4, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a 14-0 second-half run to get back in it and then took charge late to keep Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett at 326 career wins at Virginia, still tied with Terry Holland for the most in program history.

A layup by Federiko Federiko with 59 seconds left put the Panthers up 62-60 and Pitt forced the Cavaliers (10-3, 2-2) into a shot-clock violation on their ensuing possession. Six straight made free throws in the final seconds pushed the Panthers to their best start in ACC play since the 2013-14 season.

Kihei Clark scored 17 points for the Cavaliers. Armaan Franklin added 14 but Virginia’s defense crumbled over the final 20 minutes as the Panthers found their footing and kept finding ways to get to the basket for layups or draw contact to go to the foul line.

Pitt outrebounded the Cavaliers 32-28, outscored them 15-4 at the free-throw line and shot 52% in the second half to follow up a win over then-No. 25 North Carolina last Friday with another surprise. The Panthers ended an eight-game losing streak to Virginia.

The Cavaliers led by as much as 13 in the first half behind Clark’s shotmaking and a defense that prevented the Panthers from getting comfortable.

Yet Pitt, which is showing signs of making headway after four seasons mostly adrift under coach Jeff Capel, steadied itself behind a roster that’s mostly a hodgepodge of transfers.

HONORING HAMLIN

The Panthers paid tribute to injured Buffalo Bills defensive back and former Pitt football player Damar Hamlin a day after Hamlin collapsed during Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati and had to be resuscitated on the field.

The players wore blue and gold T-shirts with “Chasing Millions” emblazoned on the front, the name of Hamlin’s foundation. Fans also stood and applauded during a first-half timeout as well-wishes from across the sports world flashed on the video board above the court. Hamlin is in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

SALUTING VIRGINIA

The Panthers wore a second warm-up T-shirt that read “Pitt stands with UVA” and featured the uniform numbers of the three Cavaliers football players – Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry – who were fatally shot on the Virginia campus in November. Davis, Chandler and Perry were also honored with a moment of silence before the opening tip.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers’ defense appeared on its way to another typical lights-out performance after limiting the Panthers to 14 points over the first 16 minutes. It didn’t happen as Pitt started sharing the ball rather than trying to attack Virginia one-on-one.

Pitt: The starting five began the night having 88 combined starts at Pitt. Clark, by contrast, made his 121st start for the Cavaliers. Yet the Panthers are appearing to jell quickly, building on the optimism Capel had in the preseason that his group would make up for in collective experience what it lacked in familiarity with each other.

UP NEXT

Virginia: Hosts Syracuse on Saturday.

Pitt: Hosts Clemson on Saturday.

Burton scores 31, Pitt beats No. 25 North Carolina 76-74

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Jamarius Burton scored a career-high 31 points, Blake Hinson had seven points in the final minute and a half and Pittsburgh knocked off No. 25 North Carolina 76-74 on Friday.

Burton, a graduate student, was 14 of 17 from the field and had six rebounds. He helped Pitt (10-4, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) win its fourth straight game and remain unbeaten in conference play.

“Jamarius was unbelievable through the whole game,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “We rode him. He carried us. He made big plays. He defended. Just an unbelievable performance.”

North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said they didn’t have a defensive answer.

“Nobody on our team could guard him,” he said. “(Pitt) stepped up and made plays down the stretch. Whether you’re at home or on the road, you have to step up and make those plays, and we just didn’t do it to win the game.”

Hinson put the Tar Heels away, making a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Pitt the lead for good 70-67 with 1:28 remaining, then extending the Panthers’ lead by making two free throws with 36 seconds left and two more with 28 seconds to go to make it 74-69.

North Carolina (9-5, 1-2 ACC) closed the gap to two points, 74-72, on Tyler Nickel’s layup with two seconds left but Pitt ran out the clock to end the Tar Heels’ four-game winning streak.

Hinson finished with 16 points and six rebounds.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Capel said. “We fought for 40 minutes. We knew (North Carolina was) playing really, really well. They’re as talented as any team in the country, but we fought. We got down early, we stayed together and we stayed fighting.”

Armando Bacot led North Carolina with 22 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. It was his eighth double-double of the season. RJ Davis added 13 points and Pete Nance chipped in with 10 points.

North Carolina took a nine-point lead, 55-46 with 11:55 to go on a dunk by Bacot. Pitt responded by outscoring the Tar Heels 19-7 over nearly an eight-minute span and moved in front with 65-62 with 3:59 left on a three-point play and layup by Burton.

Two free throws by North Carolina’s Leaky Black tied it at 67-67.

Pitt won despite going just 5 of 25 on 3-point attempts after making at least 10 shots from beyond the arc in five of its last seven games. However, the Panthers scored 46 points in the paint in large part because of Burton’s drives to the basket.

“We just tried to stay even-keeled, stayed locked in and realized there are other ways to win a basketball game besides knocking down threes,” Burton said. “We just followed the scouting report and continued to fight for one another.”

North Carolina built a 26-17 advantage with 9:15 left in the first half on a pullup jumper by Caleb Love. However, Pitt went on a 13-4 run to tie the score at 30-all on a pair of free throws by Greg Elliott with 3:37 remaining.

The Tar Heels then scored 10 of the last 14 points in the half to pull back ahead 40-34.

Bacot nearly had a double-double by the break – 10 points and nine rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The Tar Heels seemed to be back on track by winning four games in a row following a four-game losing streak that dropped them from No. 1 to out of the Top 25. Friday’s game was a step backward.

“I’m upset. I’m frustrated. I’m not happy at all,” Davis said. “I was really encouraged by the way we were playing over the last four games. This was a great opportunity to build on that. It still is. I just wish that we would have been better.”

Pittsburgh: The Panthers have won nine of 10 games since opening the season 1-3, seemingly taking Capel off the hot seat.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: Hosts Wake Forest on Wednesday night

Pittsburgh: Hosts No. 13 Virginia on Tuesday night.

Moore, McGusty score 19 apiece, Miami beats Pitt 85-64

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH — Charlie Moore and Kameron McGusty each scored 19 points and Miami beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Tuesday night.

Moore was 7-of-10 shooting and had five assists. Sam Waardenburg and Jordan Miller scored 12 points apiece for Miami (20-8, 12-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).

The Hurricanes are tied with North Carolina for third in the conference standings, a half-game behind Notre Dame and 1 1/2 games behind first-place Duke with less than two weeks left in the regular season. The top four teams earn a double-bye into the quarterfinals of next month’s conference tournament.

Moore hit a 3-pointer 29 seconds into the game to open the scoring and Miami led the rest of the way. Waardenburg added a 3 before McGusty, Miller and Wong each scored in the lane to make it 14-2 about 3 1/2 minutes in, and Moore hit a turn-around jumper at the buzzer to give the Hurricanes a 20-point lead at halftime.

John Hugley led Pittsburgh (11-17, 6-11) with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds. Jamarius Burton scored 10 of his 12 points in the final 9 minutes.

Miami had 12 steals – including three apiece by McGusty and Miller — and scored 30 points off 20 Panthers’ turnovers.

The Hurricanes shot 55% (32 of 58) from the field and hit 9 of 20 (45%) from 3-point range.

Pitt’s Mohammed Gueye hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting before leaving the game with an apparent hand injury midway through the first half. He returned to start the second half and finished with 11 points, five rebounds, two steals and a block.

Miami returns home to play on Saturday against Virginia Tech. Pitt plays its regular-season home finale when No. 3 Duke visits next Tuesday.

Pitt’s Ithiel Horton suspended indefinitely following arrest

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh suspended junior guard Ithiel Horton indefinitely following his arrest over the weekend on charges of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

Pitt is scheduled to open the season on Tuesday night against The Citadel.

According to a criminal complaint, Horton hit an officer in the face with his cell phone early Saturday morning in the city’s South Side bar district. Horton was upset that his car was being towed. The report said Horton pulled away while he was being handcuffed and ran away before falling to the ground. When officers tried to detain him, Horton allegedly struck the officer.

Horton entered the season as Pitt’s leading returning scorer, averaging 8.9 points in 22 appearances last season.

The suspension came less than a week after the Panthers lost graduate transfer guard Nike Sibande for the season when he tore an ACL during an exhibition victory over Gannon.

Pitt loses senior Nike Sibande to right ACL tear

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh senior guard Nike Sibande is out for the season after tearing his right ACL in an exhibition win over Gannon.

The school made the announcement after an MRI revealed the extent of the injury.

Sibande injured the knee in the first half of the 89-64 win.

Sibande, who transferred to Pitt from Miami (Ohio) before the 2020-21 season, averaged 6.9 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Panthers last year. He was expected to take on a much larger role in the offense for Pitt, which lost its top three scorers from a year ago.

“I am really disappointed for Nike,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said. “He has been outstanding in his preparation for this season and has emerged as one of the most respected leaders in our program. He has done an amazing job dealing with adversity in the past and I am confident he will tackle his recovery in the same manner.”

The Panthers open the 2021-22 season on Nov. 9 against The Citadel.

Pitt forward Justin Champagnie to test NBA waters

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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PITTSBURGH — Pitt sophomore forward Justin Champagnie is going to test the NBA waters.

Head coach Jeff Capel made the announcement on Tuesday. Champagnie was one of the bright spots for the Panthers (10-12), earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors after averaging 18.0 points and 11.1 rebounds.

“.The feedback I will gain from meetings, workouts and outside evaluations will shape the final decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to the University of Pittsburgh for my junior season,” Champagnie said. “This process will only help my development and allow me to become a better player at Pitt or in the NBA.”

The 6-foot-6 Champagnie was the first Panther since DeJuan Blair in 2008-09 to average a double-double and the first Pitt player since Billy Knight in 1973-74 to average at least 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Capel called Champagnie’s season “terrific,” though his potential departure would throw another wrench in Capel’s rebuilding process. The team had two starters – junior guard Xavier Johnson and junior guard/forward Au’Diese Toney – enter the transfer portal late in the season.