One game out of first in ACC, Pitt takes on Florida State


After dropping consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference games to Clemson and Duke, Pitt will take a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s clash with visiting Florida State.

The Panthers (13-6, 6-2) are tied with Miami, Virginia and Wake Forest for second place in the league — one game behind Clemson — after starting the season by losing three of their first four outings in November, two by 25-plus points.

Since the recent losses to the Tigers and Blue Devils, the Panthers have double-digit wins at Georgia Tech (71-60 score) and Louisville (75-54).

“In the past if we had lost two in a row, maybe that would spiral to four in a row, six in a row because that’s what’s happened,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “I thought the Georgia Tech win was huge for that,”

Jamarius Burton (16.3) and Blake Hinson (15.8) lead four double-figure scorers for the Panthers, but Capel singled out contributions from the bench as a major factor in the recent surge. Nike Sibande has raised his average to 10.0 points a game in league play after scoring a season-high 21 points against Georgia Tech and 12 against Louisville.

“I’m really proud of our guys on the bench,” Capel said after the win over Louisville. “They came in and gave us a really, really huge lift — Nike Sibande with his scoring and then Guillermo (Diaz Graham) and Nate Santos with their energy. I thought those three guys really turned the game around for us.”

Florida State (6-13, 4-4) will go for a sweep of its two-game road swing after an 84-71 midweek win at Notre Dame. The Seminoles jumped on the Irish early and then secured the win by going 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the last 1:24 to finish 23 of 29 for the game.

“We were able to hit our free throws and maintain our poise,” coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Darin Green Jr. scored a game-high 20 points and Matthew Cleveland posted his eighth consecutive double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

–Field Level Media

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