GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers return home to the Petersen Events Center on Sunday evening attempting to halt their two-game losing streak in an Atlantic Coast Conference bout with the Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State owns a solid 15-11 overall record this season but has been trending downward in recent weeks with losses in three of its last four to slip to just 6-8 in the ACC. The Seminoles dropped an 81-75 decision at home to North Carolina on Feb. 17 and now head back out on the road where they've gone just 4-6.
Pitt has been stellar this season at 20-6 overall and 8-5 in the ACC, but it has lost four of its last six and has gone a combined 0-5 against the four teams it trails in the ACC standings. The Panthers last played exactly one week ago, falling on the wrong end of a 75-71 final at UNC, but at home they have gone a stellar 13-3.
The Panthers have owned the Seminoles in the all-time series with wins in nine of 10 matchups, with Pitt winning the latest meeting in December of 2008 in Tallahassee, 56-48.
Although the Seminoles built a lead as large as 15 in their most recent game, they were ultimately done in by a big second half from UNC and eventually dropped the six-point decision. They were outshot from the field, 51.6 percent to 43.1 percent, and lost the rebounding battle, 42-32. Ian Miller was on fire from 3-point range (5-of-8) on his way to 22 points, while Montay Brandon and Aaron Thomas scored 18 and 16 points, respectively.
On the season, FSU is typically impressive on both ends of the floor, as it shoots 46.5 percent from the field while allowing its opponents to make good on just 39.1 percent of its tries from the floor en route to a +5.9 scoring margin. Miller and Aaron Thomas both pour in an identical 13.6 ppg to lead the team, with Miller doing a large portion of his damage from 3-point range (48- of-119). Okaro White is a mainstay in the paint with 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg and nearly a block per contest, while shooting 50.5 percent from the field.
Just like FSU, Pitt also couldn't get the best of UNC in its latest tilt. Even though it cut a 12-point deficit to just two late in the game, it was ultimately done in by a mere 40.6 percent field goal shooting effort and a game-high 14 turnovers. Lamar Patterson was only 5-of-15 from the field but still netted 16 points and swiped four steals. Jamel Artis came off the bench to tally 13 points and seven rebounds and James Robinson pitched in with 10 points.
The Panthers' most recent effort was not indicative of their overall success this season, as they shoot 46.2 percent from the field for 72.5 ppg, while allowing just 60.6 ppg (12th in the nation) on 40.2 percent shooting. They also boast positive margins in terms of rebounding (+6.5) and turnovers (+2.0). Patterson is the catalyst and contributes across the board with 17.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.5 spg, while knocking down 52 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip. Talib Zanna is an anchor in the frontcourt with 12.4 ppg and 7.9 rpg, while Cameron Wright (10.7 ppg) and Robinson (8.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) also bring regular contributions.
While its status as an elite team is still very much in question, Pitt has had no trouble defeating the teams it's supposed to beat on its home floor this season and should be able to dismiss the Seminoles in this one.
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