PITTSBURGH (AP) — Trey McGowens had 30 points and seven rebounds, Xavier Johnson scored 16 and Pittsburgh pulled away late for a 75-62 win over No. 11 Florida State on Monday night.
McGowens, a freshman guard, attacked the bigger, deeper Seminoles relentlessly to help the Panthers (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) end a 13-game losing streak against ranked teams. Pitt’s previous victory over a team in the AP Top 25 came against Florida State on Feb. 18, 2017.
Last Tuesday, McGowens set a school record by pouring in 33 points in a victory over Louisville. He threatened the mark just six days later thanks in large part to going 18 of 19 from the line. Johnson overcame seven turnovers to score seven points down the stretch, including a driving layup with 2:43 remaining that helped restore Pitt’s advantage to 65-55 after Florida State cut a 10-point deficit in half.
Trent Forrest scored 19 points for the Seminoles (13-4, 1-3), who lost for the third time in four games. And unlike their setback against No. 1 Duke last Saturday — when the Blue Devils won it at the buzzer — this was no last-second stunner.
Pitt never trailed over the final 11:46, relying heavily on its freshman backcourt to continue its surprising start under first-year coach Jeff Capel. A season after going winless in the ACC, the Panthers have turned the page quickly.
The Panthers gave away size at nearly every position. Yet rather than try to shoot over the Seminoles, Pitt decided to try and run through them. The Panthers drove to the basket all night, particularly McGowens. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound freshman repeatedly flung himself into the lane, with mixed results. He missed a breakaway dunk early on but tried to go right back to the rack by attempting to rise over 6-foot-10, 250-pound Mfiondu Kabengele. That dunk missed too but McGowens drew the foul and appeared to send a message that Pitt would not be intimidated.
It translated into steady trips to the free-throw line and a 36-34 halftime lead, remarkable considering the Panthers missed their first eight shots and were outrebounded 19-12 in the opening 20 minutes.
It was more of the same in the second half. Two days after Capel chastised his team for a lack of composure late in a loss to North Carolina State, the Panthers responded by fending off the Seminoles each time it appeared they were in trouble.
Florida State: The Seminoles need to make more shots, particularly on the road. Florida State shot just 34 percent from the floor in a loss to Virginia last week and had similar issues against the Panthers. Florida State hit 20 of 58 field goals (35 percent), including just 2 of 22 3-pointers.
Pitt: The Panthers have regained their swagger at the Petersen Events Center. Once one of the toughest places to play in the Big East — an advantage that has eased a bit since the move to the ACC — Pitt has now won consecutive home games against teams that figure to be a factor in the conference. The Panthers might not be far from joining that conversation.
Florida State: Visits Boston College on Sunday.
Pitt: Travels to longtime rival Syracuse on Saturday. The Orange are coming off a win at No. 1 Duke.