Duke scored the first 12 points of the game in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament against Pitt, and in fact that opening sequence defined the entire afternoon. The fourth-seeded Blue Devils crushed Pitt 96-69 on Thursday and made it look easy. Duke took a 24–13 lead on a Darik Whitehead bucket with 7:42 remaining in the first half, and the lead never reached single digits for the rest of the game.
Duke put on an offensive clinic on Thursday at Greensboro Coliseum, but their defensive effort at the same time limited Pitt’s high-powered offense from the outset and never allowed them to find a rhythm. The Panthers came into this game having made 299 three-pointers in the first 32 games of the season, but had finished only 5-of-18 on Thursdays. Pitt’s leading three-point shooter, Blake Hinson, finished with 5 points and was 1-4 from three. The Panthers’ second best shooter, Greg Elliott, went into the game with only one three-point attempt, which he missed.
The Panthers opened the game going only 1 of 8 from the field, and didn’t find any sort of sustained success on the offensive end in this one. Pitt got a brief spark late in the first half with 5 points by the Diaz Graham brothers, but any momentum ended there at the break.
Duke similarly opened the second half on a 12–0 spurt and put the game out of reach for good. The lead swelled to 36 points in the second half, as the Blue Devils basically had cruise control for the last 20 minutes of the game and would probably have scored 100 if the reserves had not entered in the final minutes.
Pitt was led offensively by Nike Sibande, who finished with a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds, but he had to work for what he got, as did the rest of the team. Sibande was 6-of-11 from the floor. Jamarius Burton finished with 13 points, but needed 12 shots to get there. Hinson, Elliott and Nellie Cummings finished with a combined 11 points on 1-for-13 shooting.
Guillermo Diaz Graham posted 14 points and 8 rebounds off the bench as he and his brother, George, both got playing time in the second half and the game went out of reach.
Pitt’s two biggest issues of late have been rebounding and defense, and Duke took advantage of both weaknesses on Thursday. The Blue Devils outshot Pitt 30–25, and grabbed a total of 8 offensive rebounds, scoring 13 second chance points.
Duke also shot a hot 62% from the floor for the game.
Kyle Filipowski, the ACC Rookie of the Year, had a strong game against Pitt in January and picked up where he left off. Filipowski led the Blue Devils with 22 points. Despite an early ankle injury that forced him to the locker room, Filipowski returned, but it’s not like he was needed.
Duke also got 13 points from Derek Lively, 12 from Mark Mitchell and 11 from Tyrese Proctor. As a team, Duke connected on 11 three-pointers. The Blue Devils improved to 24-8 on the year and have now won seven straight games and are starting to look like a team that is tabbed as a top-10 team to start the year.
Pitt fell to 1–2 all-time in the ACC quarterfinal round. In Pitt’s ten years in the league, the Panthers have made it out of this round only once, in their first year in the league. The Panthers have now fallen to 22-11 on the year and will give up their NCAA tournament fortunes for a chance going into Selection Sunday. Most projections have Pitt in position today after Wednesday’s win over Georgia Tech, and the tournament pairings will be announced Sunday evening.