Pitt seeks a second straight win against a ranked opponent Tuesday night when No. 11 Virginia pays a visit for an Atlantic Coast Conference contest.
The Panthers (10-4, 3-0 ACC) got a career-high 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting from Jamarius Burton in a 76-74 win against then-No. 25 North Carolina on Friday. Blake Hinson scored seven of his 16 points in the final 88 seconds to help Pitt secure its fourth straight win and ninth in 10 games.
“Jamarius was unbelievable for us through the whole game,” Panthers head coach Jeff Capel said. “We rode him. He carried us. He made big plays. He defended. Just an unbelievable performance.”
Hinson’s 3-pointer gave Pitt the lead for good at 70-67 with 1:28 left. He added four free throws down the stretch, and the Panthers ran out the clock to halt the Tar Heels’ four-game winning streak.
Pitt missed 20 of its 25 3-point attempts and lost the rebounding battle (38-33) but racked up a decisive 42 points in the paint to improve to 3-0 in ACC play for the first time since 2015-16.
“We just tried to stay even-keeled, stayed locked in and realized there are other ways to win a basketball game than knocking down threes,” Burton said. “We just followed the scouting report and continued to fight for one another.”
Pitt only turned the ball over eight times against UNC. Protecting the basketball will no doubt be highlighted in the scouting report for Virginia (10-2, 2-1).
The Cavaliers collected a season-high 14 steals and forced 23 turnovers in Saturday’s 74-56 victory at Georgia Tech. It was Virginia’s second straight win following a two-game skid.
Kihei Clark had 15 points and eight assists, Jayden Gardner scored 14 points and Armaan Franklin added 11 points and five steals for the Cavaliers, who wrapped a 25-0 run around halftime to swamp the Yellow Jackets.
The surge turned a 27-25 Virginia lead with 2:58 remaining in the first half into a 52-25 advantage with 14:41 to play.
“We had a lot of momentum coming into the second half, and after that we closed it out,” Gardner said.
Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett found the burst to be refreshing.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had those kinds of runs, and that felt good,” he said.
A victory Tuesday would be the 327th at Virginia for Bennett, breaking the school record set by Terry Holland from 1975-90.
The Cavaliers have swept the last eight meetings in the series, including a 66-61 win in Pittsburgh in January. Pitt’s last victory against Virginia was in January 2017.
Gardner (12.0 points per game), Clark (11.5) and Franklin (10.7) are all scoring in double figures for Virginia.
Hinson leads Pitt in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 per game), with Burton averaging 15.8 points, 5.1 boards and 4.2 assists.
The Panthers are 7-1 at home this season, with the lone setback an 81-56 rout by West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl on Nov. 11. The Cavaliers are 2-1 in true road games, falling 66-64 at then-No. 22 Miami on Dec. 20.
–Field Level Media