Champagnie’s 30 Points leads Pitt Past Ga. Tech 73-64
[Pittsburgh,PA] Pitt freshman Justin Champagnie continued to live up to high expectations as he led the Panthers to 73-64 win in-front of 10,754 at the Petersen Events Center. In the absence of sharp-shooter Ryan Murphy, Champagnie scored a career-high 30 points (3-4 from Three-point range) and a team-leading 9 rebounds.
“First of all, I’m really proud of our guys. It was a big time win for us.”Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “You know this was the end of a hectic week for us. Our third game in seven days, we’re a little bit banged up, you know had some adversity and for our guys to come out and play with the energy that we did and force 24 turnovers. For us to not turn it over to attack their zone I thought it was big time.”
Successful teams will sometimes need a player that they can lean on to get them to victory and on Saturday, that person was Champagnie.
“And then, obviously, Justin was outstanding.” Said Capel “He’s a guy that has a lot of talent and is learning how to put it all together. And he’s learning what it requires to be a really good player at this level, and hopefully it’s something that can continue.”
After starting the game trailing Georgia Tech 7-2, the Panthers clearly needed a jolt, and Champangie gave it to them, along with Center Terrell Brown who got the start and scored 9 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Once the Panthers took the lead late in the first half, they never trailed again.
Trey McGowens scored 14 points, 9 assists and Xavier Johnson added 11 points and 7 assists for the Panthers.
But the Yellowjackets didn’t make it easy for the Panthers as they fought to keep the score close behind 48% shooting and 6 three-points, 3 by Michael Devoe, who led his team with 22 points. But the Panthers withstood the Yellowjackets attack and overcame foul trouble, especially after C Eric Hamilton fouled out in the second half.
When asked if those challenges made it difficult, Capel replied “It was but it also wasn’t. I mean, again I knew those guards were going to play a lot. So, again, this is the second game we’ve had to do this and so you know we’ve figured it out and again I’m just proud.”
With the win, the Panthers are now 15-9 (6-7 ACC) their highest win total since they won 21 games under Jaime Dixon in 2015-16. Ironically, it was the last time Pitt also made the NCAA Tournament.
Capel has them pointed in that direction, or at least a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Berth, but first the Panthers need to keep grinding, especially with Clemson coming up next on Wednesday.
“This time of year, everyone’s tired. This is the grind year, in February everyone’s a little banged up and things like that.” Said Capel “But just as the end of an incredibly hectic week for us, and, for us to play with the energy that we did is what I’m most proud of, but I think we got a lot of it from the building. I thought the fans and the students gave us a lot of energy as well.”
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