Despite a tough night shooting the ball, Pitt Basketball got an impressive victory over Florida State in an effort that included some excellent play from transfer Ryan Murphy.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Pittsburgh Panthers pulled off an exciting win on Wednesday night in an effort that showed we might be looking at a new era of Pitt basketball. Against a Florida State team that made the Sweet 16 last year, albeit, with a very different lineup, Pitt played with grit and tenacity that reflects well on head coach Jeff Capel. Despite shooting a horrific 31% from the field, Pitt was able to overcome a tough conference opponent in a win that could set the tone for the rest of the season. There are plenty of positives to take away from this season-opening win, but there was perhaps no bigger positive than the play of JUCO-transfer Ryan Murphy.
In 32 minutes of action, Murphy provided the type of spark that Pitt desperately needed. His 13 points were crucial, but it’s his court vision that stood out in this one, and his three assists showed that. Going from JUCO ball to playing against Florida State’s bigs is not an easy task, but it’s one that Murphy handled admirably. For the last few years, Pitt has lacked a forward that can score while also holding up physically against tough ACC lineups, but Murphy has a chance to be that type of player.
Outside of Murphy, Pitt got also got big-time contributions from Xavier Johnson and Terrell Brown, both of whom matched Murphy’s scoring output at 13 points. Brown, in particular, was impressive as a scorer, shooting an efficient 4-of-5 from the field while showing off a smooth overall game. Johnson, as Pitts’ top returning player, played well, and Wednesday’s effort should provide a baseline of what to expect from him moving forward.
As the season continues, Pitt is talented enough to hang with most teams, but there must be a significant improvement in terms of offensive efficiency. Shooting 31% from the field just isn’t going to cut it in most games. That said, if Murphy continues to play like this and Pitt can clean up some of the little things, this team could be frisky.