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ACC Roundup - Pitt’s Growing Up

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A freshman has moved into the starting lineup and he’s making a big difference

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 15 West Virginia at Pitt
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: A West Virginia Mountaineers coach picks up a ball during the college basketball game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pittsburgh Panthers on November 15, 2019 at the Petersen Events Centers in Pittsburgh, PA.
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Thursday’s ACC action, Miami survived Missouri State 74-70, Pitt knocked off Arkansas-Pine Bluff 66-41, Clemson whacked Alabama A&M 81-57 and Notre Dame needed OT to beat Toledo 64-62.

Justin Champagnie moved into Pitt’s starting lineup in the last game and he’s been a real asset for the Panthers.

Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he had 18 points, six rebounds and three steals and that’s good for anyone but superb for a freshman.

Sophomore Xavier Johnson, who struggled a bit early, has put together two solid back to back games. In this one he had 13 points, six assists and four steals and no turnovers.

Capel also sat grad transfer Eric Hamilton down and told him that one defensive rebound in his last five games wasn’t getting it.

And he also tweaked the role of 6-8 freshman Karim Coulibaly, using him a bit in the post.

It was a good game for Pitt and an opportunity for growth which they appear to have taken.

Miami built an 18 point lead but had to hold off Missouri State and was up just 72-70 with 1.8 left.

Fortunately DJ Vasiljevic hit his free throws and helped Miami move to 4-1. He finished with 25. Kameron McGusty added 19.

Clemson had no trouble with Alabama A&M and shouldn’t have. Thing is, the Tigers are showing signs of possibly being better than anyone expected. Al-Amir Dawes is looking like a really smart point guard, Aamir Sims is established at forward, transfer Tevin Mack is off to a great start and Johnny Newman is not bad. Hunter Tyson has been key too.

Dawes had 19 and Sims had 16 respectively.

It’s fair to say that the opponents haven’t been that great but this is also true: in the last four games Clemson has averaged 83.5 ppg. to 57.25. That’s an average winning margin of 26.25.

The next four games will be far tougher: TCU, then Minnesota, then Florida State and the big rivalry game with South Carolina. Let’s see how those go.

Talk about cutting it close: Toledo took Notre Dame to overtime before the Irish pulled it out, 64-62. TJ Gibbs made two steals in the last :35 to help the Irish win. It might not have been so close if John Mooney had fully recovered from his stomach virus. Mooney had 15 rebounds but shot just 3-11 and missed all four of his three point attempts. Based on that we’d give Notre Dame a pass on this one.

Only two other games Friday as Miami tangles with Florida in the Charleston Classic and 2-2 Wake Forest travels back to the Charlotte area for more punishment: after losing to UNC-Charlotte, the Deacs return to play Davidson. As always, Bob McKillop’s Wildcats are smart and disciplined. It’s a tall order for the Deacs. These are games Wake Forest should be winning.

Thursday’s Results

  • Miami 74 Missouri State 70
  • Pitt 66 Arkansas Pine Bluff 41
  • Clemson 87 Alabama A&M 51
  • Notre Dame 64 Toledo 59 (OT)

  • Miami vs. Florida || Noon || ESPN2
  • Wake Forest @ Davidson || 7:30 || ESPN+
  • Duke vs Georgetown || 7:00 || ESPN