Panthers get revenge, win 11th ACC contest vs. FSU


AP Photo/Chris Seward

Pittsburgh center Federiko Federiko (33) goes in for a dunk against North Carolina during the second half ofan NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

By Jermaine Sykes, Senior Staff Writer

Three weeks ago the Panthers sat at 13-6 and were smacked at home versus a 6-13 Florida State team. The Seminoles gave the Panthers one of the worst blemishes on their resume. 

The Panthers traveled to Tallahassee for a chance at revenge and they were successful, defeating the Seminoles 83-75 and putting themselves — for the meantime — alone at the top of the ACC.

Pitt’s leading duo led the way once again. Graduate student guard Jamarius Burton and junior forward Blake Hinson scored 19 points each, with 11 combined rebounds and nine combined assists. 

The Panthers got off to a hot start on Saturday, connecting on seven of their first 14 shots, including four three-pointers through the first 8:39 of the game. Junior forward Hinson and graduate student guard Greg Elliott shot right out the gates with eight and seven points, respectively. 

But the Panthers’ kryptonite in the first half was sloppy play on both ends. Elliott and senior guard Nike Sibande, two of the Panthers’ best three-point scorers, got in early foul trouble, which limited their minutes. Offensively, the Panthers turned the ball over five times in the first half, which gave the Seminoles free points.

The shooting stalled for the Panthers and a 2:39 scoring drought ensued. Then graduate student guard Burton arrived and ended the drought with seven quick points, his first of the game, including his 16th three-pointer of the season.

The Panthers are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the ACC. But after starting four for seven, they finished the first half hitting only one of their last nine attempts. 

The lifeline of the Panthers’ offense in the first half was second — and sometimes third chances. The Seminoles had eight offensive rebounds to the Panthers’ six. But the Panthers capitalized off their opportunities, scoring nine second-chance points while the Panthers only mustered two.

Still, the Seminoles kept it close to finish out the first half. They opted for a big lineup, giving the Panthers difficulties, as interior defense is a weakness for them. 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Jalen Warley had his way with the Panthers in the first half, with 14 points on five for six shooting.

Hinson and Warley both scored 14 points in the first half, and the Panthers led 37-33 going into halftime. 

The success on the boards for the Panthers continued to start the second, with two quick offensive rebounds from sophomore Federiko Federiko. But again, the Seminoles continued to attack the interior. Sophomore center Naheem Mcleod — and his 7-foot, 4-inch frame — allowed him to get to the line and have his way in the paint.

A back-and-forth battle ensued, with the Seminoles tying the game at 45 at the 15:07 mark in the second half. Florida State looked to gain an upper hand, as an and-one layup gave the Seminoles a 48-47 lead.

The Panthers found themselves down 49-50, but Burton stepped up, sparking a 6-0 run for Pitt. 

This run would spark an offensive onslaught for both the Panthers and Seminoles. Both defenses disappeared down the stretch and the playmakers made them pay.

The three-pointer also returned for the Panthers down the stretch, and a big part of that came from Sibande and Elliott. The duo knocked down a three-pointer on three straight possessions to give the Panthers a 64-58 lead.

But again, the Seminoles wouldn’t surrender, chipping away at the lead. A 5-0 run brought the game to a one-point contest with 5:47 remaining. 

After a scoreless first half, Sibande dropped 12 second half points and was one of the key factors of the Panthers pulling out the win.

A 19-12 run to end the game was enough to hold off the Seminoles. The Panthers finished with four scorers in double digits. Federiko finished just shy of a double-double, with eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

The win improved the Panthers’ resume, as it gives them a league-leading 11th win. The Panthers have as good of a chance as anyone to win the ACC regular season championship. 

The Panthers continue play at home on Tuesday against Boston College. Fans can watch on the ACC network at 9 p.m.