Pitt holds Iowa State to 23 percent shooting in 59-41 first-round win

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting in a 59-41 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10 for coach Jeff Capel’s Panthers, who stormed to a 22-2 lead after Iowa State missed its first 11 shots. Things didn’t get much better for the Cyclones, who had three stretches in which they missed at least eight consecutive shots.

Pitt (24-11), which edged Mississippi State in the First Four, moves on to Sunday’s second-round Midwest Region game against third-seeded Xavier, which had to rally from 13 points down to beat No. 14 seed Kennesaw State.

“What an unbelievable defensive performance,” Capel said. “We were a really good defensive team for the majority of the year except for the last month of the season – and we’ve really dialed back in these past two games and played at an elite level.”

Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14), which reached the Sweet 16 last year in coach T.J. Otzelberger’s first season.

The Cyclones, who had lost nine of their previous 13 games, didn’t make a field goal until Holmes’ short jumper with 9:53 left in the first half, which drew a sarcastic cheer from Iowa State fans.

Iowa State’s poor start came while shooting at the same basket that officials worked to fix before the game, causing a brief delay.

“Iowa State asked us during pregame warmups to check if the rim was level,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Building personnel checked it and made a minor adjustment prior to the game beginning. We offered them additional warmup time but they declined.”

Otzelberger said he wasn’t sure if the issue with the basket might have gotten into his players’ heads and contributed to their poor shooting, saying, “you’d have to ask the players.”

Kalscheur said it wasn’t, adding that players are trained to handle adversity.

The Cyclones clawed within 30-23 at the break but started the second half much like they did the first – making two of their first 19 shots.

When Pitt’s Nike Sibande was fouled on a 3-pointer from the left corner with under five minutes left and made the ensuing free throw to put the Panthers up by 20, it was all but over.

The Cyclones went nearly eight minutes without a field goal in the second half before Tamin Lipsey made a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:13 left to cut the lead to 19.

One the biggest highlights for Pitt came late in the second half when wiry 7-foot center Jorge Diaz Graham lofted a perfect pass to his identical twin brother Guillermo for a dunk, causing the Panthers’ bench to erupt in celebration.

The brothers don’t see many minutes on the floor together since they’re freshmen and play the same position.

“It was a blast of energy,” Guillermo Diaz Graham said. “That ball coming from my brother especially … it was amazing.”

Added Jorge Diaz Graham: “The funny thing is yesterday in practice he dunked on me and (teammate) Nate (Hinson) and he was talking trash. So I told him, ‘OK, you want to talk now, but just do it in a game.’ And so he did, and now I have to shut up and say thank you for making my assist.”

Pitt also got an emotional boost from center Federiko Federiko, who received a huge ovation from the Panthers faithful when he checked into the game in the first half. Federiko sat out with a knee injury against Mississippi State and the Panthers were outrebounded by 21.

“We’ve had something to prove since the preseason ranked us 14th our conference,” Cummings said. “We’ve had a chip on our shoulder the first time we seen that. Dayton (the First Four site) was just another example of us having to put a chip on our shoulder again. We’re definitely looking forward to proving more.”


Pitt: The Panthers knocked down eight 3s against one of the better defenses in the country when they beat Mississippi State for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014. They stayed hot against Iowa State, making their first three shots from beyond the arc.

Iowa State: Despite playing in the competitive Big 12, the Cyclones weren’t quite ready for the big stage, enduing one of the poorest shooting performances in recent memory.

“We’re a team that is fueled by our defense and felt like early we didn’t dictate and disrupt quite as well as we needed to to get our natural rhythm going,” Otzelberger said.

Pitt edges Mississippi State in back-and-forth First Four game

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DAYTON, Ohio – Jamarius Burton made a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds left and Pitt edged Mississippi State 60-59 in a back-and-forth First Four game Tuesday night that featured 21 lead changes – the most in the NCAA Tournament in five years.

Mississippi State had a great chance to win at the end, but Shakeel Moore missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner with two seconds remaining off an inbounds play. D.J. Jeffries’ tip-in attempt was off target just before the buzzer.

Nelly Cummings led Pitt with 15 points. Greg Elliott scored 13 and Blake Hinson added 12 as the Panthers (23-11) won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2014.

They slotted into the Midwest Region bracket as the 11th seed and advanced to face No. 6 seed Iowa State on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“We showed toughness, resiliency,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “We were who we’ve been all year, and it wasn’t pretty – but it was beautiful.”

A layup by Tolu Smith gave Mississippi State a 59-58 advantage with 32 seconds left, but Pitt – after a three-minute scoring drought – grabbed the lead back on Burton’s short jumper.

Guillermo Diaz Graham blocked Smith’s driving layup attempt out of bounds with 2.7 seconds left, setting up the final sequence.

“I did a block – I don’t even know how – with my left hand,” the exhausted 6-foot-11 freshman said. “I usually don’t use my left hand. And I blocked it, and I knew it was a big play, so I just let the energy go out.”

Dashawn Davis had 15 points for the Bulldogs (21-13), and Moore scored 13.

Burton, who spent nearly seven minutes on the bench after picking up his fourth foul, said he knew his last shot was going in.

“When I had the ball in my hands the last 30 seconds or so, I just told myself I was built for it,” said Burton, who finished with six points. “And I just got to a spot and let it go, and I had complete confidence in myself. That was pretty much everything that went down.”


The 3-pointers were being launched right away as the teams combined for 13 in the first half.

Mississippi State, not a good outside shooting team, hit four in the first five minutes but cooled off after that. The Panthers went 8 for 13 from beyond the arc in the opening period.

The teams hit just one each from long range in the second half.

“Every team is going to make adjustments at halftime, so I think we had to make the same type of adjustments and realize what type of game we were in and take what the defense was giving us,” Cummings said.


Mississippi State coach Chris Jans said he couldn’t quarrel with the choices his players made in the last few seconds.

“It was a heck of a look,” Jans said of Moore’s missed 3. “Fortunately we got it off quick enough where we had at least one tap at it. I don’t think the second one was probably in time, but at that point it’s all you can ask for, a chance – the ball is in the air – to win an NCAA Tournament game and still have enough time to get a putback.”


Mississippi State: Came out firing from long range, but in the second half returned to the inside game that got the Bulldogs this far. They scored 30 points in the paint.

“When you outright rebound someone 49-28, you usually expect to win,” Jans said. “But you’ve got to give Pitt a lot of credit, they obviously played well enough to win. We struggled in the first half to guard them. We just couldn’t contain the 3, and it was still a one-point game.”

Pitt: Were better from outside and finally managed to open a lead against Mississippi State’s solid perimeter defense.

“The attention to detail we had to have to maintain that throughout the game was something that we talked about as soon as we found out who we were playing,” Cummings said.

Filipowski scores 22, hot-shooting No. 21 Duke blasts Pitt

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

GREENSBORO, N.C, – Duke’s recent formula for success has focused around playing solid defense and rebounding.

If the Blue Devils can score the way they did on Thursday, they could be headed for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Kyle Filipowski overcame an early ankle injury to score 22 points, Tyrese Proctor added 11 points and 10 assists, and No. 21 Duke cruised to a 96-69 win over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Duke posted season highs in points scored and shooting percentage (62%), and made 13 3-pointers behind an ACC Tournament-record 27 assists.

Dereck Lively II had 13 points and Mark Mitchell added 12 for the fourth-seeded Blue Devils, who bolted to a 48-32 halftime lead en route to their seventh straight win. It’s the longest active streak of any ACC team.

Filipowski said the win sends a message.

“We’re coming,” Filipowski said. “We’re coming for whoever’s in our way. People don’t respect us still. We have that chip on our shoulder. No matter who we’re facing, we still have something to prove to them.”

Pitt coach Jeff Capel said Duke has the potential to turn some heads in March.

“I do think they can make a run,” Capel said. “They have size, they have athleticism. They have really gotten better defensively and if they shoot the ball the way they did today, especially from three, that makes them even more difficult to guard.”

Nike Sibande had 17 points and Guillermo Diaz Graham had 14 for Pitt (22-11).

The Blue Devils (24-8) scored on their first four possessions, bolting to a 12-0 lead with Filipowski knocking down 3s from the right corner and left wing.

“The start we got off to was incredibly important to us,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said.

Filipowski drew gasps from Duke fans in the crowd when he appeared to twist his left ankle after banging into Pitt’s Blake Hinson less than three minutes in. He had to be helped to the bench, but returned about six minutes later after getting taped and scored 14 points before the break.

Filipowski only played 15 minutes, leaving with 11 1/2 minutes remaining with Duke safely ahead by 32 points.

He said he was OK after the game as he spoke to reporters with his leg elevated on a chair and wrapped in ice.

“We will get him seen when we get to the hotel, but he looked pretty good to me when he got back out there,” Scheyer said.

Duke shot just 6 of 32 from 3-point range over its past two games, but matched that output in the first half with Filipowski making half of those. Overall, the Blue Devils were 13 of 18 from long range.

Even Lively joined in the fun, when the 7-foot-1 center known for his shot-blocking drained a 3 from the left corner to stretch the lead to 29 less than four minutes into the second half.


Pitt: The Panthers entered the ACC tournament in pretty good shape to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 – and the first time under Capel. The Panthers will have to put this one behind them quickly and regroup after a disappointing showing. “We have to flip the switch and we still have more basketball to play and we still have our chance to write our story,” Pitt guard Jamarius Burton said.

Duke: This was a dominant effort from everyone on the Blue Devils roster, and should raise some eyebrows from around the country as they begin to march toward the NCAA Tournament. With a strong showing in the ACC Tournament, it’s possible Duke may get an opportunity to play close to home at the Greensboro Coliseum.


Pitt: Await their NCAA Tournament fate.

Duke: Moves on to face top-seeded and 14th-ranked Miami in Friday’s semifinals. The two teams split the season series with Duke winning 68-66 on Jan. 21 at Cameron Indoor Stadium and losing 81-59 at Miami on Feb. 6.

Tyree Appleby is Wake Forest’s 2nd straight ACC AP Player of the Year

William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby is The Associated Press men’s player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the second straight season a Demon Deacons player took the honor after Alondes Williams earned it a year ago.

Pitt coach Jeff Capel was named coach of the year and Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski was named newcomer of the year.

Appleby, a 6-foot grad transfer guard from Florida, led the ACC with in scoring at 18.8 points a game and assists at 6.2 per contest. He was second in ACC steals.

Appleby received seven votes for player of the year from the 15 journalists who cover the ACC. Appleby finished ahead of Miami’s Isaiah Wong (four), North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (two), and Filipowski and Clemson’s Hunter Tyson, who each received a vote.

Appleby came to Wake Forest this past offseason and helped the team go 18-13 and win 10 games in ACC play.

Capel’s future at Pitt was clearly in doubt when the season began after four straight losing seasons. But the Panthers turned things around this season, going 21-10 and 14-6 against league opponents. Pitt will be the fifth seed in this week’s ACC Tournament.

Capel received 11 votes from panel while Miami coach Jim Larranaga picked up the other three. One voter abstained.

Filipowski, the Blue Devils’ 7-foot freshman, averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds this season. He received nine votes from the panel with Appleby getting four and North Carolina State’s Jarkel Joiner the other two.

The rest of the AP’s first team included Wake Forest’s Appleby, North Carolina’s Bacot and Duke’s Filipowski.


Isaiah Wong, Miami, 6-4, 185, Jr., Piscataway, New Jersey.

Tyree Appleby, Wake Forest, 6-0, 175, Gr., Jacksonville, Arkansas.

Terquavion Smith, North Carolina State, 6-4, 165, So., Greenville, North Carolina.

Armando Bacot, North Carolina, 6-10, 240, Sr.., Richmond, Virginia.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke, 7-0, 230, Fr., Westtown, New York.


Norchad Omier, Miami, 6-7, 248, So., Bluefields, Nicaragua.

Jarkel Joiner, North Carolina State, 6-1, 180, Gr., Oxford, Mississippi.

Hunter Tyson, Clemson, 6-8, 217, Gr., Monroe, North Carolina.

Jamaruius Burton, Pitt, 6-4, 200, Gr., Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kihei Clark, Virginia, 5-10, 167, Gr., Woodland Hills, California.

Coach of the year – Jeff Capel, Pitt

Player of the year – Tyree Appleby, Wake Forest

Newcomer of the year – Kyle Filipowski, Duke

AP All-ACC voting panel: Mike Barber, The Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch; Mark Berman, The Roanoke (Virginia) Times; Rick Bozich, WDRB-TV, Louisville, Kentucky; C.L. Brown, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, North Carolina; Jordan Crammer, WNCN CBS 17, Raleigh, North Carolina; Donna Ditota, The Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York; Jerry DiPaola, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Chapel Fowler, The State of Columbia, South Carolina; Ehsan Kassim, Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee, Florida; Michelle Kaufman, Miami Herald; Kevin McNamara, WPRO, Providence, Rhode Island; Tom Noie, South Bend (Indiana) Tribune; Ken Sugiura, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Lauren Walsh, WXII-TV, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Steve Wiseman, The Herald-Sun of Durham, North Carolina.

Houston, Alabama top AP Top 25; Marquette climbing, Pitt in

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The top five spots in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll remained the same. The rest of the AP Top 25 was a big jumble.

Houston was No. 1 for the second straight week in the poll released Monday, receiving 49 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel. No. 2 Alabama had five first-place votes and No. 3 Kansas received eight.

UCLA and Purdue rounded out the top five. The Boilermakers held at No. 5 despite losing to No. 15 Indiana.

In the rest of the poll, only No. 20 Providence kept the same position from last week as teams get ready for conference tournaments next week and the start of March Madness.

Alabama held its spot after winning two games despite a challenging week off the court. Brandon Miller had a pair of huge games since police alleged that he brought a gun to former teammate Darius Miles, who is charged with capital murder in a fatal shooting.

Against Arkansas on Saturday, Miller’s regular pregame introduction with a Crimson Tide reserve player giving him a pat down didn’t sit well with coach Nate Oats – or anyone else.

“I can assure you it definitely will not happen again the remainder of this year,” Oats said.

Miller had 24 points in the 86-83 win over the Razorbacks after scoring 41 in a two-point win over South Carolina.


Marquette has made a quick rise under coach Shaka Smart.

The Golden Eagles wrapped up a share of their first Big East regular-season title in a decade with a 90-84 win over DePaul on Saturday and climbed four spots in this week’s poll to No. 6. It is Marquette’s highest ranking hitting No. 1 in 1977-78.


Houston moved into the top spot last week and held onto it after a pair of routs last week. The Cougars’ 76-57 win at East Carolina on Saturday clinched the American Athletic Association regular-season championship, the fourth time in five seasons they’ve at least shared the conference title.

“Our kids know how to win – I say that a lot,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “But we’ve figured out how to play our system, be unselfish.”


Marquette matched No. 14 UConn and No. 18 San Diego State with the week’s biggest jump among teams in the poll, each climbing four spots.

No. 13 Virginia took the biggest tumble, losing seven spots following losses to Boston College and North Carolina last week.


No. 21 Maryland is back in the AP Top 25 after wins over Minnesota and then-No. 21 Northwestern.

No. 23 Kentucky returned to the poll after a seven-week absence. The Wildcats had a rapid fall from being No. 4 in the preseason poll, but reeled off wins over No. 12 Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.

No. 25 Pittsburgh is ranked for the first time since 2016 after beating Georgia Tech and Syracuse last week.

Northwestern’s return to the poll for the first time in two years didn’t last long. The Wildcats dropped out this week after losses to Maryland and Illinois.

Iowa State fell out from No. 23 after three straight losses and consecutive losses knocked out Creighton from No. 19.

Pitt moves into 1st-place ACC tie destroying Louisville

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH – Nike Sibande scored 15 points off the bench, nine Pittsburgh players entered the scoring column and the Panthers demolished Louisville 91-57 on Tuesday night and moved into a first-place tie with Clemson in the ACC.

Entering play Tuesday, the top five teams in the ACC were separated by just a game in the standings. A win by No. 8 Virginia against No. 22 North Carolina State Tuesday would create a three-way tie for first between Clemson, Pitt and the Cavaliers.

Against Louisville, the Panthers (17-7, 10-3) distributed 23 assists on 28-made baskets. Defensively, Pitt held Louisville (3-21, 1-12) to 27.6% (16 for 58) shooting and outrebounded the Cardinals 37-30. Mike James scored 11 points for Louisville.

El Ellis made a pair of foul shots to bring Louisville into a 14-all tie with 13:36 before halftime. Pitt then went on a 16-2 run over nearly the next five minutes. Six-different Panthers scored during the run. Nate Santos’ 3-pointer with 9:38 before the break made it 27-16 and Pitt led by double digits the rest of the way. A 47-27 halftime lead turned into a 58-28 margin just 1:59 into the second half.

With the win, the Panthers reached double digits in conference wins for just the second time in 10 ACC seasons. Pitt went 11-7 in its first year in the ACC following its 12-6 campaign in its final year in the Big East in 2012-13.

Louisville will continue its road trip when it takes on No. 19 Miami on Saturday. Pitt travels to face Florida State on Saturday.