Pitt Bounces Back Against Florida State, Dixon Secures 300th Win


Jan 14, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) attempts a reverse lay-up around Florida State Seminoles center Michael Ojo (50 during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. Pittsburgh won 73-64. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When Pitt hosted Clemson last weekend, the Panthers were completely manhandled, struggling on both sides of the ball in a rare home loss.

Yesterday, Pitt hosted a much bigger Florida State squad, and Jamie Dixon’s Panthers were up to the task.

The Oakland Zoo was rocking, as Pitt pulled away in the second half, with the help of walk-on senior Aron Phillips-Nwankwo at the center position, to defeat the Seminoles 73-64, giving Dixon his 300th career victory.

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For Pitt (12-5, 2-2 ACC), sophomore forward Michael Young scored 16 points and secured 12 rebounds, sophomore guard Chris Jones scored 15 points and a highlight-reel dunk, and Phillips-Nwankwo scored a career high seven points in the midst of a 16-3 run to pull ahead of the Seminoles (9-8, 1-3 ACC).  Four of five Pitt starters reached double figures.

For Florida State, freshman Phil Cofer scored a career and game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, while junior guard Devon Bookert added 13 points in the loss.

Florida State led for most of the first half, leading by as much as 8 early on, but a Chris Jones three-pointer tied the game at 26 with a little under three minutes in the half.

Young capped the half off with a tip-in off a missed James Robinson lay-up to give Pitt a 33-32 advantage as time expired in the first half.

Pitt began to slowly build a lead, as Florida State struggled shooting, and Phillips-Nwankwo made two free throws to give Pitt a 13-point advantage at 59-46 with 8 minutes remaining.  He had only played five minutes all season before this game.

A dunk by Cofer cut the lead to 6 with a minute and a half remaining, as Robinson and Cameron Wright missed several free throws down the stretch.  In the final minute, Robinson and Young drained their free throws, securing a 73-64 much-needed win for Pitt.

At this point in the season, every win is big, as Pitt hopes to make its 13th NCAA Tournament Appearance in 14 seasons.  The Panthers have a long way to go, but they will have ample upcoming opportunities against Top 25 squads.

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  • Phillips-Nwankwo provided a huge lift off the bench at the center position, as Joseph Uchebo and Derrick Randall have struggled.  This was a promising sign against a team that played three 7-footers at their center position.  Florida State had 7 blocks, but that did not bother the Panthers in the second half.

    Pitt showed signs of life, as several Panthers drove the ball to the hoop, challenging the larger Seminoles.  A game after being outrebounded by a historical worse for Dixon, Pitt was able to win the rebounding war 39-31 against Florida State.

    Both teams shot in the low 40%, but Florida State went on a nearly 9-minute field goal drought, which we have seen Pitt do on occasion.

    Hopefully this victory was a confidence booster for several young Pitt players such as Artis, Jones, and Young.


    Pitt will host Georgia Tech on Saturday.

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