• 70°

Johnson, McGowens lead Pitt over Boston College

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel gave his freshmen backcourt simple instructions Tuesday night: Attack the hole.

The strategy worked as Trey McGowens scored 26 points, Xavier Johnson added 23 and Pittsburgh defeated Boston College 80-70 in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

The explosive freshmen combined to shoot 14 of 28 from the field and make 19 of 26 free throws as the 14th-seeded Panthers won their second straight game since snapping a 13-game losing streak.

“We’ve been at our best when we’ve been able to get downhill and attack,” Capel said. “… I thought they were terrific. They dictated the pace, the tempo. They gave us confidence, and I thought that led to other guys stepping up and making big plays.”

Jared Wilson-Frame chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds for Pittsburgh (14-18).

With the freshman getting to the basket, Pittsburgh was able to score on layups and outscore Boston College 48-16 in the paint.

“They took over the game, just by attacking the rim,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said.

Nik Popovic had 21 points and nine rebounds to lead Boston College (14-17), which shot 35.6 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 27 in the second half before cutting it to nine with 58 seconds left.

The Panthers closed the first half on a 23-5 run to take a commanding 36-21 lead at the break. Boston College failed to make a field goal in the final 9:17 before intermission and shot 25 percent.

Johnson provided the boost with huge plays on both ends of the court for Pitt.

He repeatedly got to the hole scoring 14 points, and had two steals that led to two layups.

The Panthers picked up where they left off in the second half as McGowens scored nine of the team’s first 17 points.

“That’s the key every game is attack,” Johnson said. “The last time we played them, they littered the paint, and I shot 3 for 19 from the field. Today I shot 7 for 14, and that was the difference.”

SYRACUSE’S 2-3 ZONE

The victory propels the Panthers into Wednesday night’s second round matchup against former Big East rival Syracuse, the tournament’s sixth seed.

Pitt likely won’t be able to get to the hole as much against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, but McGowens said attacking is still important. “We have to attack them and make them close the gaps and get some kick-outs.”

BIG PICTURE

Pittsburgh: The Panthers have taken their lumps this year winning only three regular season ACC games, but Johnson and McGowens are going to be trouble for the next couple of seasons. Both have NBA potential. “They are only going to get better,” Christian said.

Boston College: The Eagles have to find something on offense, where they looked out of sync for most of the game. They were just 6 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc and could really use a knockdown shooter.

UP NEXT:

Pittsburgh: The Panthers face Syracuse, who they lost to by nine points in both previous matchups this season.

Boston College: Season over.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Comments

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT

Nation/World

D-Day survivor, WWII torch bearer Ray Lambert dies at 100

Nation/World

Prince Philip was always defined by role as husband of British queen

BREAKING NEWS

One dead, several injured after head-on collision in China Grove

Crime

Man, woman charged for selling drugs to undercover deputies

Crime

Blotter: Rowan County man charged with indecent liberties with children

Local

Spencer town board gets look at Park Plaza progress

Business

‘Applicant market’: Unemployment rate improving as businesses hire more workers

Local

National, local business leaders praise Salisbury’s initiative to support Black-owned operations

Nation/World

Tillis has prostate cancer surgery

Coronavirus

Adverse reactions surface from Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Nation/World

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

Local

Quotes of the week

Nation/World

Biden seeks crackdown on homemade firearms

Nation/World

Victim of former NFL player’s rampage wrote of faith, life’s fragility

News

Wrongly imprisoned man gets $750,000

High School

West falls to Statesville, finishes second in NPC

Education

Middle, high school students head back to classes full time