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Pitt beats NC State in regular-season finale to clinch 4th place in ACC

Freshman guard Bub Carrington led the way with 23 points, as the Panthers closed out the regular season with an 81-73 win over NC State at Petersen Events Center on Saturday night.

Senior forward Blake Hinson added 21, while junior center Federiko Federiko scored eight points. Reserve guard Ishmael Leggett contributed with nine points, while backup forward Guillermo Diaz Graham tallied eight off the bench.

The Wolfpack opened up a five-point lead midway through the first 20 minutes of action, but Pitt began to take control and went on a 23-8 run to close the first half with a 39-29 advantage.

The Panthers continued to surge in the second half and led by as many as 17 points. Pitt appeared to be in total command when Hinson hit a jumper to give the home team a 70-56 lead with less than six minutes remaining, but NC State would not go away.

Instead, the Wolfpack went on an 11-0 run to close the gap to 70-67 with 1:56 left. Fortunately for the Panthers, it would get no closer, as Carrington connected on a three to push the advantage back up to eight points with 1:19 remaining, and Pitt was able to salt the game away from there.

The Panthers connected on exactly 50 percent of their shots from the field and were eight of 20 from three-point range. Hinson was relatively quiet from behind the arc, connecting on two of six. Carrington did most of the heavy lifting by making four of his nine three-point attempts. Hinson played a more physical game and seemed determined to do some damage by scoring points inside the paint.

The victory was Pitt’s third in a row to close out the season. More importantly, the Panthers clinched fourth place in the ACC and a double-bye into the third round of the conference tournament that begins on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Pitt was able to earn a double-bye, thanks to Clemson losing to Wake Forest. After starting out 1-5 in conference play, the Panthers won 11 of their last 14 games to finish 12-8. Ironically enough, Pitt went a combined 1-7 vs. Wake Forest, Clemson and Syracuse during the regular season but finished one game ahead of all three in the conference standings.

By virtue of their double-bye, the Panthers won’t play until Thursday at 2:30 p.m., when they face the winner of the Wake Forest vs. Notre Dame/Georgia Tech matchup.

Pitt finished the regular season with the same 21-10 record as last year but is very much on the bubble in terms of clinching a second-straight berth in the 68-team NCAA Tournament.

The oddsmakers currently give the Panthers a 0.2 percent chance of receiving an at-large bid. Therefore, it appears that they’ll have to make a run in the ACC Tournament and advance to at least the championship game.

Will even that be enough?

We’ll have to wait and see. Either that, or Pitt can just go ahead and win its first ACC Tournament title and earn an automatic bid.


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