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Pitt leaning on defense as 11-1 Purdue Fort Wayne visits

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For all the attention Pitt’s offense has received — and deservedly so — the Panthers have proven to have a defense that’s hard to figure out.

Pitt (8-3) will hope to stay strong on both ends of the floor when it welcomes its final nonconference opponent of the regular season, Purdue Fort Wayne (11-1), on Wednesday night.

An 86-50 home win over South Carolina State Saturday marked the fifth time this season that the Panthers allowed 60 points or fewer. They rank second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring defense (64.8 points per game) and field goal percentage (39.5 percent).

The defense was a constant against the Bulldogs as the offense had to find its groove.

“I thought it took us about 16 minutes to get into the rhythm of the game,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “To get the (final) exams out and not having competition for a week, I thought we defended well throughout. … I thought we did a much better job of finding a rhythm offensively in the second half.”

Blake Hinson has paced Pitt in scoring in each of the last five contests, including a 19-point effort in the team’s last time out. He’s tied for 11th in the nation in scoring average (21.6) and is second in 3-pointers made (45).

Purdue Fort Wayne is entering off an 86-63 victory over Bethune-Cookman Saturday, its sixth win in a row. Led by Jalen Jackson’s 17 points, all five Mastodon starters scored in double figures in that win. Rasheed Bello averages 15.0 points and 4.1 assists per game to lead the team.

The Mastodons take care of the basketball, boasting the best turnover margin (plus-8.6) in the country. They also rank 11th in the nation in scoring margin (plus-19.4).

Purdue Fort Wayne is guided by coach Jon Coffman, who has the most victories in the program’s history.

–Field Level Media

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