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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Pitt men’s basketball looks to keep rolling against Georgia Tech

Pittsburgh+center+Federiko+Federiko+blocks+a+shot+by+Georgia+Tech+forward+Javon+Franklin+during+the+first+half+of+an+NCAA+college+basketball+game+at+the+Atlantic+Coast+Conference+Tournament+on+Wednesday%2C+March+8%2C+2023%2C+in+Greensboro%2C+N.C.
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Pittsburgh center Federiko Federiko blocks a shot by Georgia Tech forward Javon Franklin during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C.

Pitt men’s basketball (11-7, 2-5 ACC) continues a key stretch of its conference schedule with a road contest against Georgia Tech (9-9, 2-5 ACC) on Tuesday. Fresh off of a monumental upset win over No. 7 Duke, the Panthers need every win they can get throughout the final stages of the season as they try and claw their way back toward relevancy in both the ACC and NCAA tournament picture. 

Pitt’s victory over the Blue Devils was the realization of everything head coach Jeff Capel has preached in regard to the team’s energy and play style. The Panthers answered the bell in front of a raucous crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium and strung together a complete performance on both ends of the floor — something they hadn’t accomplished in recent games. 

Senior forward Blake Hinson put his recent shooting struggles in the rearview mirror against Duke, as he led Pitt with 27 points on seven of seven shooting from behind the arc. First-year guard Jaland Lowe followed close behind with 17 points, which included a back-breaking three-pointer in the final minute. Lowe’s newfound aggressiveness and comfort in running the offense as the primary ball-handler amongst the starters are both welcome developments for the Panthers as he blossoms into an all-around threat. 

Pitt will need more of those kinds of showings from Hinson and Lowe as it moves forward. The foremost takeaway from the win over Duke, however, is that the Panthers thrive when playing with grit and spirit. They played with a pep in their step for all 40 minutes and punched back whenever the Blue Devils struck. Pitt uncovered a blueprint that it could adhere to and find success with, but it’s a matter of remaining consistent and competing with the same edge night in and night out. 

The Panthers will look towards further establishing that identity as they take on the Yellow Jackets. The two programs faced one another three times last season, with Pitt finishing on top each time, including a win in the ACC tournament that helped finalize its NCAA tournament resume. 

Georgia Tech is without two of its top three scorers from a season ago, but the return of junior guard Miles Kelly has helped stabilize the offense under first-year head coach Damon Stoudamire. Kelly is leading the Yellow Jackets with 15.1 points per game on the season, though it comes on 35.4% shooting. Opposite him in the backcourt is junior guard Kowacie Reeves Jr., who has emerged as a sharpshooter on 41.2% shooting from three-point range, along with 11.9 points per game. 

The Yellow Jackets rank near the bottom in most offensive categories among ACC teams. They currently sit at No. 12 in points per game with 73.6, No. 13 in field goal percentage at 43.2% and No. 14 in three-point percentage at 32.0%.

One area where they do excel, however, is on the boards. Georgia Tech is positioned behind only the Panthers in offensive rebounds with 12.4 per game, which is largely a product of Kelly and first-year forward Baye Ndongo’s efforts. 

The Yellow Jackets haven’t performed much better on the defensive side of the ball, either. They yield the second-most points per game in the ACC while also forcing just 9.6 turnovers per game, the lowest mark in the conference

With all that said, Georgia Tech has proven itself as a tough opponent in conference play. The Yellow Jackets came away with an upset win of their own over Duke at home on Dec. 2 before coming inches away from repeating that outcome in an 84-79 loss to the Blue Devils in Durham on Jan. 13. 

They also stole a 93-90 road victory over Clemson in double overtime last Tuesday before hanging in tight against Virginia in a 75-66 loss this past Saturday. 

The Panthers will have their hands full with a pesky Georgia Tech team as they seek a momentum-building win that could pay dividends down the stretch. Pitt men’s basketball stands a good chance against the Yellow Jackets in this matchup, but it all depends on what version of the team shows up on Tuesday. 

Pitt men’s basketball will take on the Yellow Jackets at 7 p.m. in Atlanta, Georgia. Coverage will air on ESPNU.

About the Contributor
Jack Markowski, Senior Staff Writer