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Panthers no match for Duke in 87-52 loss

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Six Blue Devils racked up double-figures, while Jared Wilson-Frame's 17 points served as not enough in the 35-point Panthers loss at Petersen Events Center Wednesday night.

In a game where nine freshmen started, it was Mike Kryzewski’s youthful batch that boasted supreme seniority.

Pitt (8-9, 0-4) managed just 33.3% from the field, connecting on 17-field goals, while No. 7 Duke (14-2, 2-2) shot an explosive 20-of-34 (58.8%) in the first half to keep the Panthers at bay in the 87-52 win.

The freshman frontcourt duo of Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter terrorized Pitt to the tune of a combined 26 points and 22 rebounds, adding to a 40-26 difference for the Blue Devils in the paint, while gaining a 39-32 advantage on the glass.

“I don’t want to be captain obvious, but we just didn’t have enough answers tonight,” said Kevin Stallings, who is now 4-18 in ACC play with Pitt.  “I thought in the first half that Duke was awesome, and they obviously were ready to play.  They came out firing on both ends of the ball.”

Duke, who carried a 26-point lead into halftime, held the Panthers to a miserable 4-of-22 from beyond the arc, while keeping Marcus Carr to a 1 for 8 night from the field with three points, and keeping the frontcourt of Shamiel Stevenson, Terrell Brown and Peace Ilegomah to a combined 12 points and eight rebounds.

Forward Kene Chukwuka served as the silver lining for the Panthers, corralling four offensive rebounds—three of them on one possession alone—while adding eight points in 23 minutes.

“That is just how I play,” said the sophomore.  “Coming in off the bench with some energy always helps.  If I was starting, I would bring that same energy, it is just what I do.”

Chukwuka’s efforts on the offensive glass helped spark an 11-4 run that brought Pitt back to a 17-point difference with 12:38 left in the game.

“You see it in practice but you don’t see it in games,” said Stallings of Chukwuka.  “I was really happy for him.  I’m really proud of him and hopefully he can use this as a little but of a springboard going into future games.”

Duke found its springboard in the zone defense, which ignited a 29-11 run from the midway point of the second half when they switched over to the look.

“We had prepared for zone,” said Stallings.  “We have been remarkably effective against zone defenses all season long.  Tonight, we weren’t as much.  It was really about turnovers.  We just didn’t trust each other.  I tried to bail them out and give them something different to do instead of sticking with what we are good at, but weren’t being good at while they were zoning us.  Part of that was my fault.  I probably should have just called a timeout to teach them why we have been good in zone offense.”

The Panthers committed 15 turnovers on the night, while the Blue Devils carried a 21/6 assist-to-turnover ratio.  Gary Trent tallied a team-best five assists, while adding 14 points, while Grayson Allen added four assists, 11 points and four rebounds on his solid Wednesday night campaign.

“We played well on defense and shared the ball well,” said Coach Krzyzewski.  “We had six kids in double figures and I thought our bench did a good job.  We have a couple kids out and then Wendell [Carter Jr.] got hurt early and our bench came through for us.  It was just a solid overall performance from our team.”

Carter, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, exited the game midway through the first half, but came back intermittently throughout the second half, registering 16 minutes.

Wilson-Frame’s 17 points came on 7-of-17 shooting, while Stewart Parker tallied up 10 points on 3-of-11 from the field. 

“We will keep grinding every day, and as long as we have that our hopes are never going to be down,” said Wilson-Frame about the optimism moving forward for his Panthers.  “Going into every game, we are telling each other that we love each other, will play hard and [we’ll] go win the game.  When the result ends with us long, it is not something we are hanging our heads about.”

After the spread

Pitt came in as 18-point underdogs, marking the fourth time this season they came in catching points at home.

Up next

The Panthers will host Georgia Tech on Saturday.  Tipoff is set for 2 PM.

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