North Carolina State sophomore DJ Funderburk, forced into heavy minutes because of an early ejection, posted career highs with 18 points and nine rebounds as the shorthanded No. 15 Wolfpack survived to beat Pitt 86-80 on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
Funderburk came on after starting big man Wyatt Walker was ejected two minutes into the game for a flagrant technical foul for tripping Pitt’s Xavier Johnson after they got tangled on the floor under the Panthers’ basket.
Funderburk, in his first season at N.C. State after redshirting at Ohio State and attending junior college, also blocked four shots and made 8 of 10 free throw attempts in 34 minutes.
Johnson led Pitt (11-5, 1-2 ACC) with 25 points.
N.C. State (14-2, 2-1) also lost point guard Markell Johnson with 9:45 left in the first half when he came down hard on his backside after going up to challenge a fast-break layup attempt by Jared Wilson-Frame. Johnson was carried off the court, not putting any pressure on his legs.
Johnson, averaging 12.3 points and 4.2 assists, returned to the bench in the second half but did not play. He had been “trying to stretch out his back,” according to the television broadcast.
N.C. State guard Devon Daniels made 9 of 14 shots for a team-high 19 points. Graduate transfer guard Eric Lockett stepped up off the bench to score 17 points, his career best with the Wolfpack. He had a key eight-point flurry, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers, to give N.C. State a 65-63 lead with 5 minutes to go.
Au’Diese Toney scored 17 points for the Panthers. Wilson-Frame scored 12 but was 1 of 10 from the field. Freshman Trey McGowens, who had scored at least 15 points in four consecutive games, had seven to go with seven assists.
Pitt, which ended a 23-game regular-season ACC losing streak with an overtime win against Louisville on Wednesday night, committed 17 turnovers and gave up 21 offensive rebounds.
N.C. State guard Torin Dorn, the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, also was shaken up in the first half when he inadvertently got hit in the face. He struggled to score after that, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, but he pulled down 10 rebounds.
—Field Level Media