Pittsburgh – Pitt overcame a slow first-half start and a brief double-digit deficit en route to a 73-54 win over visiting Alabama State Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers hit seven three-point field goals in the second half and outplayed the Hornets 42-20 after the break to suffer a three-game sled.
Blake Hinson finished with a game-high 21 points, plus five rebounds and four steals during Nike Sibande came off the bench and had 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. The Indianapolis, Indiana native threw down two three-point field goals and was 5-of-5 from the foul line for the game. He scored 11 points in the second half of the game, including a fast break dunk in the final 90 seconds to punctuate the win for the Panthers.
Pitt was down 36:34 after 5:25 p.m. and went past 8:44 with a 26-2 run to gain control of the game. The Panthers went 11 of 12 from the field, including 7 of 8 from three-point range during the deciding run of the second half. John Hugley IV three at the 7:30 mark gave Pitt a 64-39 advantage.
The Panthers’ defense locked in during the second half of the run, limiting Alabama State to 1 of 22 shots from the field over a 10-minute period. The Hornets shot just 24.3 percent (9 of 37) from the field after halftime, including 1 of 13 (.077) from three-point range.
Pitt controlled the interior space behind the game of Hugley IV, Hinson and Jorge Diaz Graham. Pitt recorded a 47-36 rebound advantage while scoring 30 points in the paint. Hugley IV finished with 10 points, nine rebounds (6 offensive boards) and two blocks Jorge Diaz Graham scored nine points, a season-high eight rebounds and two blocks.
NO FIRST START NERVES FOR JDG
Jorge Diaz Graham made his first career start and made an immediate impression for the Panthers. He hit an early three-pointer to give the Panthers a 10-2 advantage before being benched with his second foul of the half at 4:35 p.m. The 6-11 forward started the second-half run with another three-point field goal, seven rebounds and two blocks after halftime. Diaz Graham finished the game with a team best plus/minus +28 in 19:16.
STORY IN TWO HALVES
Pitt’s +22 turnaround from a three-point halftime deficit to a 22-point win is the fourth-largest turnaround in program history. The Panthers shot 51.7 percent (15 of 29) from the field, including 7 of 14 (.500) of three in the second half after going 11 of 33 (.333) from the field and 3 of -15 (. 200) of three in the first 20 minutes.
Hugley IV returned to action after missing Pitt’s game against VCU. He’s missed three of the Panthers’ five games this season… Jamarius Burton missed the game with a knee infection and ripped a string of 30 straight starts… William Jeffress remains sidelined with a foot injury sustained in late July.
Pitt returns to action Tuesday, November 22 at the Petersen Events Center against visiting FDU…the Panthers will play their fourth game in seven days.