Struggling Pittsburgh hopes to translate its strong performance from last time out into a victory this time around when it hosts Lehigh on Saturday afternoon. The rebuilding Panthers shot a season-high 50.9 percent from the field and gave Oklahoma State (4-1) all it could handle Tuesday before falling 73-67 in the consolation game of the Legends Classic in New York.
“We competed really hard (Tuesday),” Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings told reporters. “There were some really good things. … There was some real growth on the part of some of our guys. … In terms of energy, getting the job done, in terms of trying to do what they need to do to be successful we got a very good effort from our team.” Stallings said the Panthers have a small margin for error and the veteran coach has used five different starting lineups in five games, winning once against UC Santa Barbara 70-62 on Nov. 15. Pittsburgh produced its worst effort of the season in the Legends Classic semifinals against Penn State while getting routed 85-54, but held Oklahoma State to 37.9 percent shooting last time out and will need a similar performance against Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks have earned two of their three victories in overtime, but are coming off an 88-63 loss at No. 10 USC on Wednesday.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT LEHIGH (3-2): Junior guard Lance Tejada scored 19 points against USC and leads the team overall at 16.4 per game with 14 makes from 3-point range in 33 attempts. Senior guard Kahron Ross had 24 points versus the Trojans to push his season mark to 13.6 and averages 5.0 assists while shooting 53.2 percent from the field with six 3-pointers in 11 tries. Sophomore forward Pat Andree (11.8) and junior guard Kyle Leufroy (11.6) are also scoring in double figures for the Mountain Hawks, who are giving up 80.8 points per contest.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (1-4): Marcus Carr recorded his first career double-double against Oklahoma State with 12 points and 10 assists while fellow freshman guard Shamiel Stevenson scored 16 for his third double-figure effort in the last four games. Junior guard Jared Wilson-Frame leads the team at 15.8 points per game, scoring in double figures in each outing, and senior forward Ryan Luther is averaging 12.2 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds. The Panthers need to be better on the boards where they have been outrebounded by a margin of 8.8.
1. Pittsburgh sophomore F Kene Chukwuka made his first start Tuesday and had six points along with six rebounds.
2. The series is tied 5-5, but Lehigh has not beaten the Panthers since the 1917-18 season and dropped decisions in 2012 and 2013.
3. Stevenson drained 8-of-9 from the field against Oklahoma State after making 1-of-5 against Penn State.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 78, Lehigh 68