Game Notes: Does #1 Virginia have anything to worry about Saturday at Pitt?
Now, sure, the Panthers (8-21, 0-16 ACC) have played better at home, losing by single digits to North Carolina State, Syracuse and Wake Forest, but that’s literally it, three losses by less than 10 in 16 conference games.
Pitt is 15th in the ACC in conference games in offensive efficiency (.877 points per possession), 15th in defensive efficiency (1.16 points per possession, 15th in offensive rebound percentage, 15th in defensive rebound percentage.
At least last year’s group had Jamel Artis and Michael Young. This year the best players are a few notches below elite. Ryan Luther, a 6’9” senior, is the leading scorer, at 12.7 points per game, and Luther also pulls down 10.1 rebounds per game.
For a big man, Luther can shoot the three (38.7 percent), though as the main post threat, you’d maybe like to see him shoot better than 48.6 percent on shots inside the arc.
Jared Wilson-Frame, a 6’5” junior, also averages 12.7 points a game, on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 31.2 percent from three-point range.
Point guard Marcus Carr averages 10.2 points and 4.2 assists per game, with an ugly 2.8 turnovers per game.
That’s another area where Pitt is 15th in the ACC in conference games – turnovers, averaging 14.4 per game, on an ACC-worst 22 percent of the Panthers’ offensive possessions.
Virginia, on its side, forces turnovers on an ACC-best 22.1 percent of opponent’s possessions.
Keys to the Game: Virginia
Respect the opponent: Any team can win on any given night. Now, Pitt hasn’t won since Dec. 22, a 63-59 win over Towson, but, hey, the Panthers have #1 coming into their house, for the home season finale. Expect their best shot.
Bench minutes: The starters are still logging big minutes. In Wednesday’s win over Georgia Tech, Ty Jerome went 38, Kyle Guy 35, Devon Hall 32. Ideally, this game is one where those guys go 28-30, to preserve some minutes for March. Important in getting there: getting an early working margin, and the bench guys playing well enough to earn their minutes.
A third thing: I usually try to break things down in threes. I’m out of stuff to key on here. This one shouldn’t be tough.
Story by Chris Graham