Ryan Luther has been the one constant for the Pittsburgh basketball team this season. The Panthers, who will play a second consecutive game without their senior forward, will seek a sixth win in seven games when Delaware State visits on Tuesday.
The 6-9 Luther averages 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game but missed Saturday’s 72-51 win over McNeese with a right foot injury which is expected to keep him out for two weeks. After the Hornets’ game on Tuesday, the Panthers close their non-conference slate Friday against Towson before kicking off their ACC regular season with undefeated Miami (Fla.) on Dec. 30 and Louisville on Jan. 2. “I think our team is getting better and this is obviously a little bit of a setback with not having Ryan for a bit, but our team continues to show signs of progress and they continue to play hard. So, we’re making strides,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said after the game.” Without Luther in the lineup against the Hornets, junior Jared Wilson-Frame stepped up, scoring 16 of his 19 points after the break as the Panthers shot horribly in the first half and trailed for much of it. “Obviously, we didn’t have our anchor in there. I knew it would affect us, I didn’t know to what extent,” Stallings added. “I thought Jared did a really good job at the start of the second half of getting our team going. From an energy standpoint, an emotional standpoint, obviously from a scoring standpoint. He was very efficient.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT DELAWARE STATE (2-10): The Hornets dropped their sixth straight game 68-59 in overtime to in-state rival Delaware on Sunday. Jonathan Walker led the way with 16 points, but he was the only Hornet in double figures. Junior Simon Ovule, a 6-10 center from Nigeria, is averaging 10 points and six rebounds, while 6-6 Russian forward Artem Tavakalyan chips in 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (6-5): The Panthers knocked down a season-high 14 3-pointers and held McNeese to 24.3 percent shooting from the field. Wilson-Frame leads the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game, but the 6-5 wing had scored just 27 points in his previous three games. Point guard Marcus Carr averages 12.5 points and four assists, while fellow freshman and Canadian Shamiel Stevenson, who chips in 10.3 points and 5.4 rebounds and ranks 10th among ACC freshmen in scoring, shoots 52 percent from the field and leads the team in free-throw attempts (51).
1. Against McNeese, Pitt started four freshmen - Carr, Stevenson, F Terrell Brown and G Khameron Davis - the first time in program history the Panthers have started four or more freshmen in a game.
2. Hornets sophomore G Kobe Gantz, who had back-to-back 20-point scoring games earlier this season against DePaul and Fort Wayne, leads the team in scoring at 13.5 points per contest, but he’s missed the last six games.
3. The Hornets shoot 39.1 percent from the floor, 28.1 from 3-point range and allow opponents to connect on 41.3 percent beyond the arc.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 74, Delaware State 58