Tallahassee, FL – The Seminoles had to play without three top players, guard Anthony Polite (wrist), forward Malik Osborne (foot), and Naheem McLeod (hand). All three of them are out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on their injuries.
Ithiel Horton poured in 24 points, shooting 7 for 13 from 3-point range, Pittsburgh beat a depleted Florida State squad 56-51 on Wednesday night at the Tucker Civic Center to end its four-game losing spree. They shot 16 of 56 (28.6%) and finished 7 of 24 (29.2%) from beyond the arc.
Horton made eight of Pitt’s 18 field goals and seven of the team’s eight 3-pointers. The Panthers shot 33%. On the defensive side, Mouhamadou Gueye tied a career-high with eight blocked shots.
It was the Panthers’ (9-16, 4-10) first road win in the ACC since a 63-60 victory over Syracuse on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Seminoles didn’t hit double digits until 12 1/2 minutes in when Caleb Mills hit a 3-pointer to knot it at 12 with 7:34 before the break.
Pittsburgh led 21-20 at the break as both teams struggled to score. The Panthers were 7-for-28 (25%) shooting while the Seminoles were just 5 of 28 (17.9%) before intermission.
The Panthers never trailed in the second half.
Mills scored 19 points and Matthew Cleveland chipped in 12 reaching double figures, but they combined for 10 of 29 shooting. Sophomore forward Cam’Ron Fletcher added nine points. All other Seminole players shot a combined 3 of 20 (15%) from the field. None of them recorded more than four points.
“We can’t get any consistency on the offensive end,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Our guys are giving decent effort. Obviously we could play a little bit harder and with more of what we call juice. But when you are executing and can’t make those shots, sometimes it has a tendency to take the enthusiasm away. That is what happens when you are less experienced.
Without the triple threat on the hardwood, the Seminoles struggled miserly to score. When they needed to, no one could step up and carry out the task. FSU missed nine layups on 13 attempts and only dunked twice. There were also too many airballs launching on the Seminoles’ backcourt.
“We had several point-blank layups that we just didn’t finish,” Hamilton said. “That has been a problem. Answering that makes it seem like an excuse. But the bottom line is, we’ve got to make them. I can say inexperience. I can say first-year players. But the bottom line is, that’s part of the development process.”
In the second half FSU switched to a zone which slowed the Panther offense. After Pittsburgh scored two points across a seven-minute stretch, the Seminoles tied the game at 41. But the Panthers then found another hot shooter, Jamarius Burton. Pittsburgh’s last four buckets, including one three-pointer, all came from Burton.
Excluding Horton and Burton production, Pittsburgh shot 3 of 29 from the field and 0-10 from downtown. But their production was enough with how bad the Seminoles shot offensively.
FSU (13-10, 6-7) has lost five straight to fall from conference contention. The losing streak is the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Losing to the Panthers should be considered a season low for the Seminoles. Even with the victory, Pitt still have the worst overall winning percentage (0.36) among ACC teams. And though they were short handed, FSU were still favored by double-digits.
“Offensively, I thought in the first half we were a little impatient until about the 10-minute mark,” Hamilton said. “I thought we executed a lot better (after that point). We got great shots when we moved the ball. We couldn’t make any of them.
“In the second half, I thought that we made some inexperienced mistakes. We took an ill-advised shot or two. Misread each other. Turned the ball over. In a close game like that, the team that plays with the most savvy down the stretch will probably win.”