Tue, 13 Apr 2021

Wake Forest, Pitt aiming to end long slumps

Field Level Media
02 Mar 2021, 05:19 GMT+10

Maybe getting to March will be a good thing for Wake Forest or Pittsburgh.

It can't get much worse.

Both teams hold five-game losing streaks going into Tuesday night's meeting in Pittsburgh.

Wake Forest (6-13, 3-13 Atlantic Coast Conference) won just one of seven February games.

"I don't think we're playing very hard," Demon Deacons coach Steve Forbes said. "... It's interesting because in practice I don't see that as much. But it's not carrying over to the game for whatever reason."

Pittsburgh (9-10, 5-9) went 1-5 in February, losing two of its top three scorers in the process as Xavier Johnson and Au'Diese Toney announced intentions to transfer. The duo combined to average more than 28 points per game.

Yet the Panthers hung with host North Carolina State before falling 65-62 on Sunday.

"We lost a game, which we have a lot over the past few weeks," Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. "We've been in position where we had a chance to win. We just haven't done the things necessary to earn the right to win."

Virginia Tech trampled Wake Forest 84-46 on Saturday. The average margin of the past four setbacks for the Demon Deacons has been 25.3 points per game.

"We have a fine line of how we have to play," Forbes said. "Part of toughness is having mental toughness, not just physical. ... You got to dig in. You've got to take it personal."

Wake Forest hasn't been able to make positive in-game adjustments.

"Right now, they're getting deflated quickly and early and they're losing their fight," Forbes said.

Recent opponents Duke, North Carolina State, Clemson and Virginia Tech were motivated by bolstering NCAA Tournament credentials. So with Pittsburgh, that doesn't figure to be the case.

"Pittsburgh, they've had their struggles, too," Forbes said.

Pittsburgh's Justin Champagnie is second in ACC scoring at 18.6 points per game.

This will be the Panthers' home finale and Capel said the team remains committed to playing with a purpose.

"We've fought all year," Capel said.

Capel said the recent roster defections mean more responsibility for guard Femi Odukale, who showed he's willing to step up by notching a season-best 18 points at NC State.

Wake Forest defeated Pittsburgh 76-75 on Jan. 23, ending the Panthers' three-game winning streak. That also snapped Wake Forest's six-game skid and provided the team with its first ACC victory.

--Field Level Media

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