The Preseason NIT at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., begins Wednesday, and as a part of it, the Florida Gators face the Pittsburgh Panthers. Through four games, the Gators sit at 3-1 and the Panthers at 4-0. The teams will tip-off at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU.
While neither team is ranked in the top 25, both have played good basketball early in the season, with a combined 7-1 record. This will be the third ACC matchup for the Gators, who have already faced Florida State and Virginia. They defeated FSU last Friday, 89-68, while they fell to Virginia, 73-70.
Pittsburgh, however, has not faced a power five team. Its most recent victory came against Jacksonville University, winning 107-56.
Although the Panthers haven’t played tough competition, they have dominated. They are sixth in the nation in points per game, second in total rebounds, 10th in assist/turnover ratio and fourth in blocked shots. The Gators, on the other hand, are 47th, 22nd, 173rd and 63rd in those respective categories. Pittsburgh leads Florida in every stat category.
Players to Watch
For Pittsburgh, Carlton Carrington is the guy. He is just a freshman, but averages 18 points per game and shoots 51.9% from three-point range. On top of that, he averages 54.8% from field goal and 80% from free throw. He was named back-to-back Rookie of the Week in the ACC.
On Florida’s side, it’s guard Zyon Pullin. He was suspended for the first three games of the year, but in his debut, he scored 15 points and shot 44.4% from the field vs. FSU. The transfer averaged 18.3 points per game and shot 39.4% from three-point range in his one year with UC Riverside.
Pittsburgh forward Blake Hinson leads the Panthers in scoring with 20.5 points per game. At 6-foot-8, he shoots 46.4% from field goal and 39.4% from three-point range.
For Florida, it’s another transfer. Guard Walter Clayton Jr. is averaging 14.5 points per game with a 44.4% field goal percentage . He also leads the team in assists with five per game.
Finally, it’ll be a battle of the bigs. For Pittsburgh, there’s forward Guillermo Diaz Graham. The 7-footer averages 10.5 points per game. He also shoots 62.5% from the field and 44.4% from three-point range. Pittsburgh also has 6-foot-11 center Federiko Federiko, who averages 7.3 points per game but adds 7.8 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Florida has yet another transfer in 7-foot-1 center Micah Handlogten. He averages 10 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. They also add freshman forward-center Alex Condon, who is 6-foot-11. Condon averages 9.8 points per game while shooting 60.9% from field goal and 57.1% from deep.
Whoever wins will advance into Friday, facing either the Baylor Bears or the Oregon State Beavers. Baylor and Oregon State face off at 7 p.m. Wednesday.