PITTSBURGH (AP) – Xavier Johnson, Terrell Brown and Ryan Murphy scored 13 points apiece as Pittsburgh slipped past Florida State 63-61 on Wednesday night in a rare Atlantic Coast Conference season opener.
The Panthers (1-0, 1-0 ACC) won despite shooting 31 percent (16 of 51) from the field by taking advantage of the foul-prone Seminoles (0-1, 0-1). Pitt outscored Florida State 22-13 at the free throw line and knocked down nine 3-pointers, three of them by Murphy, a junior college transfer who provided Pitt with a needed jolt following a sluggish start.
Senior guard Trent Forrest, the only starter returning from a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season, led the Seminoles with 19 points. Devin Vassell added 14 but the Seminoles couldn’t survive 14 turnovers and 27 fouls. RaiQuan Gray, Malik Osborne and Balsa Koprivica all fouled out for Florida State.
The Seminoles led 40-31 on a layup by Osborne with 13:37 to play but the Panthers responded. Freshman Justin Champagnie hit a 3-pointer to get Pitt started and the Panthers found their footing thanks in part to Brown. A starter a season ago, he began the night on the bench as part of a revamped lineup. He made a layup while getting fouled with two minutes to go and made the ensuing free throw to push Pitt’s lead to 59-56.
Florida State had a chance to tie it at the end of regulation but Patrick Williams missed a jumper with two seconds to go. Anthony Polite grabbed the offensive rebound but couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
Florida State: The Seminoles are rebooting after losing four starters on a team that won a program-record 29 games a year ago. Yet this group has all the hallmarks of their best teams under head coach Leonard Hamilton. Florida State remains big and athletic. The Seminoles blocked six shots and made things uncomfortable for the Panthers for long stretches.
Pitt: The Panthers are hoping to take another step for in head coach Jeff Capel’s second season. He’s provided stability in his first 18 months on the job, and an upset of the Seminoles last January – one fueled by Johnson and Trey McGowens – offered proof the program finally had forward momentum. Yet Capel warned his team it wouldn’t be able to sneak up on opponents anymore and Florida State certainly looked more prepared to deal with Pitt’s penetration.
Florida State: Hosts Western Carolina on Sunday.
Pitt: Begins nonconference play on Saturday at home against Nicholls State.
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