The Pitt News

The Pitt men’s basketball team wore masks in a team huddle during its game against Saint Francis University on Nov. 25. Head coach Jeff Capel was gut-wrenchingly honest over the course of the past few months about how difficult this season was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Column | Was this worth it: Reflections from a season covering COVID basketball

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor March 16, 2021
College basketball isn’t a great sport because there is something inherently “good” about a group of 18-to-22-year-olds putting a ball in a metal ring. College basketball is thrilling because of its pageantry and is deeply personal — especially for a student journalist — because you can write about a player dominating national television one night and go to class with them the next morning.
Nike Sibande (22) recorded season-highs in points (12), rebounds (7), shot attempts (13) and minutes (36) against the Florida State Seminoles last weekend.

Pitt falls 79-73 to Miami in ACC Tournament’s opening round

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor March 9, 2021
Pitt men’s basketball entered the ACC Tournament desperate to pull themselves out of a downward spiral that goes back months.  It began when the Panthers (10-12 overall, 6-10 ACC) dropped a one-point contest to Wake Forest on Jan. 23, snowballed into a streak during which they lost nine of 11, reached its climax when junior stars Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney transferred and ends with a 79-73 loss to under-manned Miami (9-16 overall, 4-15 ACC) on the first day of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. 
Pitt men’s basketball (10-11 overall, 6-10 ACC) fell short in a 77-62 loss at Clemson (16-6 overall, 10-6 ACC) on Saturday afternoon.

Pitt comeback falls short in 77-62 loss at Clemson

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor March 8, 2021
Pitt men’s basketball (10-11 overall, 6-10 ACC) was unable to overcome sluggishness on both ends of the court early. The Panthers’ comeback effort fell short in a 77-62 loss at Clemson (16-6 overall, 10-6 ACC) on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore forward Justin Champagnie (11) finished second in points per game and first in rebounds per game in the ACC. In comparison to last season, he increased his scoring average from 12.7 to 18.4 points per game, and his rebounding average from 7.0 to 11.1 per game.

Column | ACC’s top tier dominate conference award season

By Kyle Saxon, Staff Writer March 8, 2021
As the regular season comes to a close and college basketball ramps up into conference tournaments, the time to hand out yearly awards has come as well. Staff writer Kyle Saxon breaks down who he thinks should take home annual honors in the ACC.
Senior forward Terrell Brown, the lone player honored on Senior Day at the Pete on Tuesday, opened the scoring with a dunk.

Sibande’s 23 points sink Demon Deacons on Senior Day

By Stephen Thompson and Dalton Coppola March 3, 2021
Pitt (10-10 overall, 6-9 ACC) put the last week’s trials behind them and put forth one of its strongest efforts of the season, particularly on the defensive end, in a 70-57 win over Wake Forest (6-14 overall, 3-14 ACC). Capel reached deep into his bench and pulled out a complete team effort in the nearly wire-to-wire victory.
Pitt men’s basketball (9-10 overall, 5-9 ACC) has now lost eight of it’s last nine games after falling 62-65 at NC State (12-9 overall, 8-8 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. The team also lost two of its players, juniors Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney, after they transferred.

Pitt begins life after Johnson, Toney with 65-62 loss to NC State

By Zack Gibney and Stephen Thompson March 1, 2021
Pitt (9-10 overall, 5-9 ACC) has now lost eight of its last nine games after falling 62-65 at NC State (12-9 overall, 8-8 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. In the wake of two key personnel losses, head coach Jeff Capel insisted that he felt this loss could be better attributed to the eight-day layoff between games and not the recent roster attrition.
Sophomore guard Xavier Johnson darts past a Clemson defender.

Johnson to transfer, will not finish season with men’s basketball

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor February 24, 2021
Pitt men’s basketball junior guard Xavier Johnson confirmed a report from Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday morning that Johnson will immediately leave the Pitt program and enter the NCAA transfer portal. 
Nike Sibande (22) recorded season-highs in points (12), rebounds (7), shot attempts (13) and minutes (36) against the Florida State Seminoles last weekend.

Contentious offseason fades in memory as Sibande settles in at Pitt

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor February 24, 2021
After the COVID-19 pandemic and a contentious transfer process kept him out of action for 262 days, Nike Sibande spent his first nine games at Pitt shaking off the rust. But he showed flashes of dynamism in his breakout game on Saturday that indicate his game is growing along with the comfort of a still-new home in Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Sibande’s season-best can’t save Pitt in 79-72 loss to No. 16 FSU

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor February 20, 2021
With a vocal, five-person contingent of the Oakland Zoo jeering and cheering from just to the left of the media suite for the first time this season, Pitt (9-9 overall, 5-8 ACC) battled No. 16 Florida State (13-3 overall, 9-2 ACC) for most of Saturday’s contest at the Petersen Events Center. But the Seminoles’ size and depth proved to be too much for Pitt to handle in the end. FSU dominated the paint offensively, en route to a 79-72 win over the Panthers.
Pitt men’s basketball (9-7 overall, 5-5 ACC) lost 71-65 to Georgia Tech (10-8 overall, 6-6 ACC) on Sunday night in an away game in Atlanta.

Woeful offense dooms men’s basketball in 71-65 loss to Georgia Tech

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor February 15, 2021
A late rally from Pitt (9-7 overall, 5-5 ACC) was not enough to overcome its own sloppy play in a 71-65 loss to Georgia Tech (10-8 overall, 6-6 ACC) on Sunday night in Atlanta. Pitt’s 18 turnovers and lowly 53% shooting from the free throw line proved fatal in the second half as the Panthers dropped their second loss in a row since upsetting No. 16 Virginia Tech.
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