Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Panthers Hope for Better Start but Same Result

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Panthers Hope for Better Start but Same Result

Article excerpt

Pitt's ACC debut last year at North Carolina State couldn't have gotten off to a worse start.

The Panthers quickly fell into a 17-2 hole and looked as if they were going to get blown out of the gym.

But after gaining their footing, the Panthers slowly worked their way into the game by halftime, seized control early in the second half and won, 74-62.

The Panthers (10-3) are hoping for a better start but a similar result today when they open their second ACC season at PNC Arena against the Wolfpack (10-4).

N.C. State returns guards Ralston Turner and Anthony Barber, but one player the Panthers won't have to contend with is T.J. Warren, who left for the NBA after last season. Phoenix selected him with the 14th pick of the draft.

Warren averaged 24.9 points and 7.1 rebounds and was capable of taking over a game. Pitt found that out the hard way when Warren scored 41 points in the rematch in March at Petersen Events Center. N.C. State won, 74-67.

The addition of Alabama-transfer Trevor Lacey (17.1 ppg) and increased scoring from Barber (12.4 ppg) and Turner (12.9) has helped offset the loss of Warren. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said the Wolfpack will be tough to defend because there are three scoring options instead of just one.

"Their guard play is experienced," Dixon said. "Barber played a lot of minutes for them last year, and Lacy obviously adds a lot to their offense as well. And their wing, Ralston Turner, can score for them, too, so a lot of their scoring comes from their guards."

The Panthers were 11-7 in the ACC last year, and Dixon said their inaugural season was a good learning experience. But he discounted the notion that the ACC is that much different than the Big East in terms of style of play. Only a few teams in the league, N.C. State being one of them, play a more up-tempo game.

"Every team changes over time," Dixon said. "And even in leagues that you are familiar with there are adjustments and different personnel, and that is especially true in today's game where you have guys transferring in and out a lot more.

"The main thing about the style of play is that with 15 teams in a league, there is not real style of play because so many teams do so many different things. …

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