Pitt, NC State enter ACC play on a roll


North Carolina State and Pitt both are rolling along entering Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener in Raleigh, N.C.

Pitt (5-3) has won four straight after a 1-3 start to the season, crushing opponents during the streak. The Panthers won each game by at least 16 points, including an 87-58 blowout at Northwestern on Monday.

NC State (7-1) has won three in a row, all by double digits, including Tuesday’s 85-64 defeat of William & Mary.

Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said he was particularly proud of how his team moved the ball and looked for passing opportunities, highlighting the 18 assists his team posted against William & Mary.

The Wolfpack aren’t ranked, but their only loss this season came to then-No. 3 Kansas by six points on Nov. 23.

The offense has been a well-spread attack between Jarkel Joiner, Terquavion Smith and Casey Morsell. Joiner is leading the team with 17.3 points per game, followed by Smith with 16.1 and Morsell at 14.9.

“Terquavion and Jarkel Joiner are really playing unselfish basketball,” Keatts said. “(Smith) sacrificed a little bit of the scoring, but I think what’s happening in front of us is we are starting to see a little bit more of a complete player.”

Smith is averaging 5.3 assists per game and effectively makes most of the decisions for the offense.

Blake Hinson leads Pitt with 16.8 points per game this season and has made his presence felt on the boards with 6.8 rebounds per game.

“I think we’ve helped him, and he’s certainly helped us,” coach Jeff Capel said. “But the main thing is that the kid has worked since he got here. He’s easy to coach, because there’s no B.S. You can coach him hard. He accepts the truth, he wants the truth. He doesn’t make excuses and he doesn’t shy away from it. Guys like that are really easy to coach.”

Jamarius Burton is averaging 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists as the do-it-all guard for the Panthers.

The start of league play is a chance for both schools to rebound after subpar showings in the ACC in 2021-22. The Wolfpack finished last with a 4-16 conference record and the Panthers weren’t much better at 6-14.

–Field Level Media

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