Easily the best win of the season, Pittsburgh Basketball defeats Duke on the road to get back on track.
After losing to Syracuse at home on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Basketball was tied for last in the ACC standings and nowhere near the NCAA Tournament bubble. Making matters worse, they took on a Duke team that had recently beaten them by 22 points at home in one of the hardest environments to get a win in.
The good news for the Panthers was that the Blue Devils were without two starters for the game, Jeremy Roach and Mark Mitchell. The underdogs took advantage, getting off to a 9-0 start and surviving several punches from Duke in the second half to hold on for the 80-76 win for their first top-25 road win against an ACC opponent.
There's plenty to take away from this game but here are three specific keys I took from the game.
1. Blake Hinson gets back on track
In the last five games, the senior forward averaged just 12.8 ppg, shooting 11/45 (24%) from three-point range. Considering the lack of scoring depth on the roster, including the inconsistencies from the guards, that's why the team lost four of those games. He was fantastic against Duke, going for 24 points and eight rebounds, including a perfect 7/7 from deep.
Hinson is the heart and soul of the team and can literally shoot them into wins. They just need more games like this instead of struggling from the field. He's shown he can light it up on the road and that's going to be important, with Georgia Tech and Miami next away from home.
2. Jaland Lowe's star emergence
Carlton Carrington was the star guard for the Panthers in the first half of the season but he's hit the "freshman wall", shooting just 33% from the field in ACC play. He had an okay game against Duke, producing nine points on 3/9 shooting in 26 minutes before falling out. The star guard for Pitt in the win was the other freshman Lowe, going for 17 points and six assists on 6/16 shooting, including the game-ceiling 3-pointer.
After averaging just 4.0 ppg in the non-con coming off the bench, Lowe is now averaging over 12 ppg in ACC play, including 20 points against Syracuse in the last game. With Ishmael Leggett coming off and injury and Carrington having his struggles, it's been the perfect time for the Panthers to have Lowe become a new double-digit scoring option.
3. Federiko Federiko an impact player on the night
One lineup change Coach Jeff Capel made was having Federiko replace Guillermo Diaz-Graham in the starting lineup. He ended up not only finishing with nine points and five rebounds but compared to previous attempts, defended Kyle Filipowski well, limiting him to 19 points and five rebounds on 5/10 shooting.
Pittsburgh needs some offensive production out of the five-spot to take the pressure off of the shooters to be overly efficient from the field. 13 points combined from the centers proved to be very important in the road upset. Let's see if they can keep it up and whether Federiko remains the starter this week,