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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Pitt men’s basketball dominates Jacksonville 107-56 ahead of their first Power 5 matchup

Senior+forward+Blake+Hinson+%282%29+goes+for+a+layup+during+Friday+nights+game+against+Jacksonville+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.+
Bronco York | Staff Photographer
Senior forward Blake Hinson (2) goes for a layup during Friday night’s game against Jacksonville in the Petersen Events Center.

Pitt men’s basketball (4-0, 0-0 ACC) beat Jacksonville (2-2, 0-0 ASC) on the court and in every major statistical category while improving to 4-0 as ACC play draws closer. 

After a tight game against Florida Gulf Coast on Monday, the Panthers got the train right back on track with a 107-56 win. 

The Panthers got out to a hot start with a three-pointer from junior guard Ish Leggett and a ferocious slam by senior forward Blake Hinson. The duo helped the Panthers jump out to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes. 

That hot start continued as first-year guard Carlton “Bub” Carrington’s first points of the game came on an and-one three-pointer.

There was an improvement in Pitt’s perimeter defense as every shot by Jacksonville was met with a Pitt defender in his face. It took more than five minutes for Jacksonville to get their first bucket of the game, and Pitt had a sizable lead at that point. Leggett had nothing but positive things to say about the Panthers’ start. 

“Starting the game they had two points for a long time,” Leggett said. “And that’s a testament to how high we were playing. “

Pitt went on run after run in the first half, as it drained 3 straight shots from behind the arc. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong for the Panthers on either side of the ball. 

Hinson finished with a team-high 25 points, and bringing up his season average to 20.5 points per game. 

Pitt finished the game with 51 rebounds compared to Jacksonville’s 29. Head coach Jeff Capel was pleased with Pitt’s performance on the glass. 

“Our guys played really really well, really hard,” Capel said. “Coming into this game [Jacksonville] were 9th in the country in pace, they were 2nd in the country in rebounds and 4th in offensive rebounds.” 

The Panthers’ three-point shooting ability has been put on display and nearly every player possesses that ability. Friday’s game saw a night where Pitt finished with 15 makes from three, the fifth most in school history. 

The second half is where the Panthers continued to dominate. Pitt was up 30 coming out of the locker room and continued to build on the lead. 

Jacksonville committed two turnovers early and Pitt went on a repeated streak of draining three-point shots from behind the arc in three consecutive possessions, where the first came from lefty first-year guard Jaland Lowe and the next two coming from Carrington. 

Coming into this game, Pitt expected Jacksonville to continue their aggressive play. Pitt ball handlers were faced with press and trap defense but they didn’t flinch. The aggressive play from the Dolphins reached a point where Capel was visibly upset and ran onto the court after Leggett took a hard foul.  

“I shouldn’t have run out on the court,” Capel said. “But I was frustrated.” 

Those frustrations were put to rest after a huge performance from sophomore forward Guillermo Diaz Graham. The sophomore had 11 points in the first eight minutes of play and he finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds — both career highs.

Diaz Graham did not know a double-double was in the cards for him tonight. 

“I had no idea I was gonna get a double-double and the ball kinda landed in my hands,” Diaz Graham said. “And I was like wait, oh yeah I got a double-double and the guys were excited for me.”

There are playmakers littered throughout the roster and selfless play as four players finished with four or more assists. Leggett finished with four assists and agreed that it was Pitt’s best ball movement the team has had all year. 

“The ball had energy and it was finding the right person,” Leggett said. “We all trust each other’s shot-making abilities and judgment.”

The Panthers’ next game will take place in Brooklyn on Wednesday for their first power five matchup against Florida at NIT Season Tip-Off.

About the Contributor
Tommy O'Connor, Staff Writer