Pittsburgh jumped on the back of Justin Champagnie to provide its coach Jeff Capel, a former Duke player and assistant, a win over his mentor Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils on Tuesday.
Next, the Panthers look to start 5-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since 2013-14 when they travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. on Saturday to play struggling Wake Forest.
Champagnie tied his career-high with 31 points on 12-of-15 shooting, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots in the 79-73 home victory on Tuesday, helping his team forget a 79-67 loss to the ninth-ranked Blue Devils last season.
“I feel like we all wanted (a win for Capel), we all wanted to equally — like everybody in the locker room really, really want to win this game and it just felt good,” Champagnie said afterward.
Champagnie’s other 31-point game came last year in an 81-72 win over Wake Forest, which snapped a four-game losing skid in the series. He is enjoying a fantastic second season with the Panthers, leading the team in scoring (20.3), rebounds (13.0) and blocks (1.6).
While Pitt (8-2, 4-1 ACC) is looking for its best conference start in eight years, Wake Forest (3-6, 0-6) is just looking for an ACC win.
The Demon Deacons were on pause from Thanksgiving weekend until New Year’s Eve due to COVID-19 issues, and their only wins have come against Delaware State, Longwood and Division II Catawba.
Wake dropped its sixth straight game Wednesday, 80-73 at North Carolina, but the Demon Deacons did get a career-high 27 points from Daivien Williamson and a career-best seven 3-pointers by Isaiah Mucius among his 27 points.
Despite a 13-3 edge in 3-pointers, the Deacons couldn’t overcome 20 turnovers.
“I think it’s just lack of confidence in playing against pressure,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “You’re not going to play North Carolina or Duke and just play a pretty pass-pass-pass game. It’s got to be beat them off the dribble, and then make the right play.”
Pittsburgh was originally scheduled to play Boston College on Saturday, but that game was postponed Wednesday due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Boston College program.
–Field Level Media