Johnson Scores Game-High 20 Points to Lead Pitt Over Rutgers, 71-60

PITTSBURGH, Pa — Xavier Johnson scored a season-high 20 points and backcourt mates Trey McGowens and Ryan Murphy added 16 and 15 points, respectively, to lead Pitt to a 71-60 over Rutgers in the 2019 ACC / Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center.

Pitt Panthers (L to R) Justin Champagnie (#11), Xavier Johnson (#1) and Trey McGowens (#2) During the Panthers win over the Scarlet Knights 120319 at the Peterson Event Center in the ACC/Big10 Challenge (Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

“I’m proud of my team.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel “I thought we did some good stuff tonight and we beat a good basketball team. I thought offensively it was one of the better games we’ve played percentage wise and most importantly with having 18 assists on 27 field goals. I think we’re getting a little bit better at understanding how to play and move without the ball.”

Johnson finished 8-of-14 from the field and hit 2-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. He also recorded a game-high eight assists to go along with three rebounds and two steals. Pitt’s backcourt trio combined for 51 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists and six steals as the Panthers won their fifth consecutive contest.

Pitt Panthers Head Mens Basketball Coach Jeff Capel during the Panthers Acc/Big 10 Challenge win over Rutgers 120319 (Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

I thought Xavier Johnson was great after starting out the game slow.” Said Capel “He was great, and I thought Au’Diese Toney had his best game, too. He stepped up and really made some big- time plays. I thought Trey McGowens was very efficient throughout the second half. I thought Eric Hamilton rebounded the basketball better and hit seven in the second half.”

Pitt Forward Eric Hamilton (#0) Goes high for the shot against Rutgers Defenders Paul Mulcahy(#4) and Myles Johnson (#15) right as Teammate Au’Diese Toney (#5) looks on in Panthers win over the Scarlet Knights in the Acc/Big10 Challenge at the Peterson Event Center 120319 (Photo Credit: Vince Butts -UMT Sports)

Pitt (7-2, 1-0 ACC) went into the break leading by eight, but the Scarlet Knights closed the gap early in the second half as the Panthers’ shooting touch went cold. The teams played about 10 minutes of tight basketball before Trey McGowens sparked a 13-0 Pitt run. McGowens had six of Pitt’s 13 points on that run and finished with 16 points overall.

Particularly effective after turnovers, Pitt scored 28 of its points off 20 Rutgers giveaways. The Knights scored just 11 points from turnovers.

Rutgers Assistant Coach and Pitt Alum Brandin Knight during the Pitt /Rutgers game 120319 at the Peterson Event Center (Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

Rutgers (6-2) once again closed the gap in the final two minutes but couldn’t get any closer than seven points.

Myles Johnson, Ron Harper, Jr. and Montez Mathis each had 14 points to share the team lead for Rutgers. Johnson had 14 rebounds and Harper had 10 rebounds, each recording a double-double.

“We’re excited about the win and we’re excited to feel like we’re getting a little bit better and then we can move forward.”-Said Capel.

Former Pitt Guard Ashton Gibbs (Center White shirt) in watching Pitt beat Rutgers in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge at the Peterson event center 120319 (Photo Credit : Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

 

BIG PICTURE:

Rutgers: Geo Baker, the Knights’ leading scorer, had nine points, snapping his streak of six consecutive games in double figures.

Pitt: After dropping two of their first four games, the Panthers have now won five straight and seem to be rounding into form against top-flight opponents, with their victory over the Knights

coming on the heels of wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. Pitt now has four major- conference wins, as many as they had in all of 2018-19.

UP NEXT:

Rutgers: Begins Big Ten play with a trip to No. 11 Michigan State on Sunday. The  Scarlet Knights are 0-8 all-time against the Spartans, with seven of the losses coming as conference opponents.

Pitt: Travels to Louisville for its second ACC game of the season. The Panthers are 1-0 in conference play after beating Florida State to open their season. Friday’s contest will be Pitt’s 20th overall game against the No. 1 team in the AP Poll. Pitt is 2-17 all-time against the top team in the AP Poll with both wins coming against Connecticut during the 2008-09 season.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

www.PittsburghPanthers.com

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