Report card: Grading the Panthers’ UNC victory

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Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Justin Champagnie scored 22 points and made four of his seven 3-pointers.

By Michael Elesinmogun, Staff Writer

After a disappointing loss to Wake Forest on Saturday, Pitt men’s basketball ended its 22-game ACC road skid by edging out North Carolina on the road Wednesday night. The Panthers trailed by double digits in the first half but clawed their way back thanks to the terrific 3-point shooting of sophomore guard Trey McGowens and first-year forward Justin Champagnie.

Team Grade: B

Though this was a great win for the Panthers in a very tough environment, they struggled in the first half to keep pace with UNC, shooting 32.1% from the field and 1-10 from 3-point range. It looked like 23 straight ACC road losses were staring them in the face.

But Pitt didn’t quit. The team exploded for an incredible second half in which it shot an incredible 58.3% from the field and 8-12 from long distance, in large part due to the performances of McGowens and Champagnie.

Trey McGowens: A+

McGowens played nearly the whole game, logging 39 out of 40 minutes for the Panthers. He finished with 24 points on 47% shooting from the field and 50% beyond the arc.

This was one of those games that reminds us that McGowens was the highest-rated recruit in head coach Jeff Capel’s first class. He routinely blew past Tarheel defenders and got whatever he wanted — chipping in eight assists and six rebounds.

These are the kind of dominant games we’ve come to see sporadically from McGowens, who also led the defensive charge with four steals. If he can display this level of aggression and efficiency more often, Pitt will be a tough out in the ACC.

Justin Champagnie: A

While McGowens almost played the full game, Champagnie actually played all 40 minutes for the Panthers. After a disappointing performance against Wake Forest, he rebounded in a huge way by shooting 58% from the field and 57% from the 3-point line.

From his first game this season, Champagnie has proved to be a great complement to his talented backcourt teammates. In addition to his hot shooting, he showed off his all-around contributions by recording eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Xavier Johnson: B-

Johnson was the third-leading scorer for the Panthers with 17 points and shot an impressive 54% from the field. But he continued to be plagued by turnovers, leading the team with six while only dishing out three assists. After expressing a desire to improve his assist-to-turnover ratio, Johnson has still struggled in that department thus far.

Terrell Brown and Eric Hamilton: C

Pitt’s two centers each put forth a very mediocre effort. Brown didn’t attempt a single shot or pull in a rebound in 18 minutes of play, while Hamilton scored six points but committed four fouls and two turnovers. Their saving grace was the fact that they clogged UNC’s driving lanes and made its guards uncomfortable around the basket.

Going forward, Pitt needs greater production out of this duo because the team won’t be this hot from three all season.

Ryan Murphy: D

The sharpshooter wasn’t so sharp tonight, going 1-8 from the field and not hitting a single 3-pointer. Murphy definitely had a game he’ll want to forget. To his credit, he didn’t let his bad offensive night completely derail him, stealing the ball twice and playing sound overall defense. 

But again — if the Panthers are to be real players in the ACC, Murphy must get it going on both ends of the court.

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