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9-year-old boy who caught McCutchen’s 300th HR reveals significant milestones of his own
9-year-old boy who caught McCutchen’s 300th HR reveals significant milestones of his own
By Aidan Kasner, Senior Staff Writer • 7:31 pm

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9-year-old boy who caught McCutchen’s 300th HR reveals significant milestones of his own
9-year-old boy who caught McCutchen’s 300th HR reveals significant milestones of his own
By Aidan Kasner, Senior Staff Writer • 7:31 pm

Pitt men’s basketball showcases versatility against Virginia Tech

First-year+guard+Jaland+Lowe+%2815%29+motions+to+fans+during+Saturday+evening%E2%80%99s+game+against+Virginia+Tech+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.
Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer
First-year guard Jaland Lowe (15) motions to fans during Saturday evening’s game against Virginia Tech in the Petersen Events Center.

On Saturday, Pitt men’s basketball won a game they needed to win to keep alive their hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

The Panthers kept their at-large hopes alive because of three main things — their three-point defense, their response to early foul trouble by first-year guard Carlton “Bub” Carrington and their effort after a brutal loss last Tuesday.

The Panthers responded well to pressure

Against Virginia Tech, Pitt had to respond to multiple different challenges.

Last Tuesday night, the Panthers faced their largest defeat of the season to Wake Forest. Pitt fans were intrigued to see how the Panthers would respond to this adversity in its next game against Virginia Tech. 

On Thursday, head coach Jeff Capel knew the Panthers weren’t going to let the 33-point defeat get the best of them.

“When we showed back up Thursday to practice, I knew that we were ready,” Capel said. “I felt like we had learned a lesson.” 

First-year guard Jaland Lowe didn’t overthink the loss to the Demon Deacons. Instead, he focused on getting back to playing Pitt basketball. The first-year felt like the Panthers did that against the Hokies.

“[We] got to move on, get back to how we play, ” Lowe said. “And I think we did a great job of that tonight.”

Pitt also had to deal with and respond to different rotations throughout the first half. 

Three minutes and nineteen seconds into the game, Carrington committed his second personal foul, earning him a spot on the bench for all but 1:55 of the next 16:41. 

This meant junior forward Zach Austin would have to play more than his average of 23.4 minutes per game. 

Austin was not afraid of the challenge. He finished the night with nine points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. But the High Point transfer didn’t think much of his clutch performance.  

“Just playing defense, playing off each other,” Austin said. “It was nothing really special.”

Austin did everything the Panthers needed in the first half to stay in the game. The junior forward kept the game knotted up at 36 apiece and stopped Virginia Tech from going on a run with an irregular Pitt lineup on the floor. 

But once the second half started, Carrington, well-rested and full of energy, was the difference for the Panthers. He finished with a game-high 20 plus-minus and went on a 5-0 run of his own that fully took things away from the Hokies.

Lowe knows what Carrington brings to the table for the Panthers.

“A huge spark,” Lowe said about Carrington’s performance. “Bub’s a great ball handler, great scorer, great facilitator. We knew in the second half that him playing more would take less stress off everybody else.”

The Panthers’ different responses on Saturday showed Capel that they are learning and growing from earlier in the season.

“We have grown up a lot,” Capel said. “We got beat pretty bad early this year … So, this team is learning. We are growing. We are getting better. We learn from every situation.”

Three of Twenty 

Virginia Tech came into their matchup with Pitt on Saturday night with a 36% three-point percentage. But the Panthers kept the Hokies to their worst shooting percentage from deep in all of conference play, forcing Virginia Tech to shoot 15% from beyond the arc.

Capel was especially happy with the Panthers’ three-point defense, which allowed only three makes in the 40 minutes.

“I was just really pleased with the defensive effort throughout the game,” Capel said. “Especially guarding the three.”

To Lowe, the plan to stop the Hokies from deep was simple — run Virginia Tech off the three-point line and force it to make tough shots inside the arc.

“[We] just tried to run them off the line,” Lowe said. “Make them make tough twos, make them go downhill a lot, send them to our bigs.”

The Panthers’ defensive strategy for defending the three has worked for them all season long. 

Pitt’s defense is ranked as the 19th best in the country for three-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to make only 29.8% of their attempts. 

The Pitt three-point defense was especially impressive against Virginia Tech graduate student guard Hunter Cattoor, who shot 1-4 from deep against the Panthers. Cattoor owns the fourth-best three-point percentage in the ACC at 42%.

Guillermo Diaz Graham has potential 

Sophomore center Guillermo Diaz Graham is a difference-maker. The center is currently shooting 40.7% from beyond the arc on the season and 66.6% from deep in his last four games. 

Diaz Graham’s ability to stretch the floor is a headache for opponents to game plan for and is an asset Capel will want to use for the rest of the season.

What’s next

Pitt is practically playing a postseason basketball game on Tuesday night at Clemson. If the Panthers win, they put themselves in an ideal position to earn an at-large bid. If the Panthers lose, they will need a miracle or an ACC championship to punch their ticket to March Madness.

Pitt fans can watch the Panthers take on Clemson on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. on ACCN. 

 

 

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer