Tallahassee, FL- Florida State basketball (13-10, 6-6 ACC) fell to the Pittsburgh Panthers (9-16, 4-10 ACC) by a score of 56-51 on Wednesday night. The loss extends the Seminoles’ losing streak to five games. Pitt entered the night in last place of the ACC and were double-digit underdogs. They left with a road victory thanks to Ithiel Horton’s 23 points. FSU shot just 28.6% from the floor and turned the ball over 13 times.
Moments that mattered
Pitt leads by one after a sluggish first half
Florida State trailed at the half 21-20. The first half was forgettable for FSU, the Panthers, and fans that watched. Both teams struggled to get the lid off of the basket. Florida State went 5-28 (17.9%) from the field and made just two triples. Pitt also shot below 30% as they made just seven of 28 field goals. They were 2-13 (15.4%) from beyond the arc. FSU missed five free throws, while the Panthers missed four.
The Seminoles didn’t make a field goal for the last 5:38. Pitt didn’t make a field goal for the final 6:15 of the half. Caleb Mills led the Seminoles with eight first-half points. Mills and Matthew Cleveland were the only ‘Noles that produced more than two points in the first 20 minutes.
Horton’s hot start to the second half gives Pitt a boost
Pittsburgh’s Ithiel Horton entered the night with a season-high of 13 points. That quickly changed early in the second half. The 6’3 guard was just 2-6 from deep in the first half but knocked down his first three triples in the second half. The three straight three-pointers gave him a season-high 17 points with 15:37 still remaining in the game. Horton’s triples extended Pitt’s lead to four at the first media timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, Horton hit another triple as he was left wide open in the corner, which extended Pitt’s lead to seven. Leonard Hamilton called his second timeout with 14:35 remaining and the Seminoles down 34-27. At the time, Horton had just seven fewer points than FSU did as a team.
The Delaware native’s hot shooting continued after Hamilton’s timeout. FSU made back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to three, but Horton responded with another corner three. FSU trailed 39-31 at the under-12 TO.
FSU trims deficit down to three at U8 TO
After the media timeout, the Seminoles went with a small lineup. The adjustment helped slow down the Panthers’ offense, as they went on a scoring drought of four-plus minutes. Mills and Cam’Ron Fletcher each hit three-pointers to cut the Pitt lead down to two. A dunk by John Hugley pushed the lead back to four, but Hugley got a technical foul for hanging on the rim for too long. Mills hit the technical free throw to put FSU down three with 7:35 remaining.
A flagrant-one foul on Hugley a couple of minutes later put Cleveland at the line for two free throws. The freshman knocked down one of two to trim the lead to two with 5:40 remaining. A tough finish at the rim by Fletcher tied the game at 41 with five minutes left in regulation. Jamarius Burton banked a floater in to put the lead back in Pitt’s hands on the following possession. On a bucket that would’ve tied the game, Cleveland was called for a charge. Shocking. FSU trailed by two at the final media timeout.
Burton’s clutch shooting leads Pitt to victory
Burton was Pitt’s sparkplug late. He extended Pitt’s lead to five with his first triple. FSU turned the ball over on the following possession. The ‘Noles stole the ball right back, but Cleveland couldn't finish at the rim. Fletcher made two free throws to trim the lead to three with two minutes remaining. Burton once again responded with another tough basket, as he banked in a fadeaway jumper. Hamilton called his third timeout as Pitt led 48-43 with 1:38 remaining.
Pitt went one for two at the line to push the lead to six with 1:16 remaining. Wyatt Wilkes got open off a pump fake and drilled a triple, his first of the night, to trim the lead to three with 57.7 seconds remaining. After FSU’s final timeout, Burton hit another stepback jumper to extend the Panther lead to five with 33.6 remaining. Burton went 4-4 in the final five minutes of the game.
RayQuan Evans sprinted down the court and made a layup to cut the lead to three. The bucket took just five seconds off the game clock. Burton went two for two at the line to push the lead back to five a couple of seconds later. On the following possession, Fletcher traveled and the FSU fans headed for the parking lots.
Up next: Florida State travels to Chapel Hill on Saturday to face the North Carolina Tar Heels. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 PM. The game will be televised on ESPN.