Sun, 23 Jan 2022

Pitt searching for offensive spark as UMBC comes to town

Field Level Media
27 Nov 2021, 03:19 GMT+10

Not much was expected from Pittsburgh, and through a choppy start, the Panthers' elusive number is 64.

Pitt hopes to finally score more than 63 points Saturday afternoon when it hosts UMBC.

Picked to finish 14th in the 15-team Atlantic Coast Conference after losing four of five starters to transfers and the NBA, the Panthers (2-3) also lost Nike Sibande to a season-ending ACL tear in their final exhibition game when they scored 89 points.

In meaningful games, the offense has not come close to that level.

The Panthers were held to 63 in a 15-point loss to the Citadel to start the season, then scored 59 while splitting games against West Virginia and UNC Wilmington and netted 63 in a four-point win over Towson on Nov. 19.

On Wednesday, the offense struggled as Pitt shot a season-worst 36 percent and missed 13 of 15 3-point tries in a 68-52 loss to visiting Vanderbilt. Pitt also allowed 44 points after halftime.

The poor shooting numbers dropped the Panthers to 43.1 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from behind the arc for the season.

"We can't allow our inability to make shots affect our defense because we have not been a good shooting team," head coach Jeff Capel said. "We have to understand the dirty work, the helping each other and being connected. It has to be there all the time, not just when things are going well"

Against Vanderbilt, the Panthers got 14 points from Femi Odukale, whose 12.0 points per game are second on the team. Nate Santos, who averages 8.2 points, added 11 but leading scorer John Hugley (13.0 per game) was held to one point on 0-of-6 shooting.

To avoid a repeat of Wednesday's frustrating showing, the Panthers hope to buckle down against the America East's top offense.

UMBC (3-2) is averaging 77.8 points under new coach Jim Ferry and has cracked 85 points in its three wins while being held to 55 and 60 in lopsided losses to Longwood and Massachusetts, respectively.

The Retrievers, who are shooting 32.8 percent from 3-point range, made 16 of 23 from behind the arc in their 98-67 win over American on Tuesday. Leading scorer Keondre Kennedy increased his scoring average to 14.6 per game by scoring a season-high 21 points as UMBC totaled 20 assists.

"Twenty assists is what's special," Ferry said. "It's early basketball, with a new coach and new players, guys in different roles and it's a process. We have to stay focused on getting better every day and being consistent."

--Field Level Media

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