GREENSBORO — Justin Champagnie scored a career-high 31 points, and Pittsburgh defeated Wake Forest 81-72 in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Tuesday.
Trey McGowens scored 14 points and Xavier Johnson added 10 points and eight assists for Pitt (16-16), the tournament’s 13th seed. Abdoul Karim Coulibaly chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Twelfth-seeded Wake Forest was led by Olivier Sarr’s 20 points and 13 rebounds. Isaiah Mucius had 19 points and Brandon Childress added 17 for the Demon Deacons (13-18).
The Demon Deacons led 41-40 at the half behind 17 points from Mucius.
The 6-foot-8 Mucius was able to use his size and length to step out and knock down threes over smaller defenders. But Mucius picked up his fourth foul seven minutes into the second half and had to take a seat on the bench.
It was nip and tuck the rest of the way with neither team leading by more than four points in the second half until Champagnie buried a 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes left to put the Panthers up 73-68.
Champagnie, as he had done multiple times in the game, scored on a dunk off a baseline backdoor cut. McGowens drove and banked a shot off the glass to give Pitt its largest lead at 79-70 with 1:40 left.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers shot the ball well, but will need to step up their defense if they hope to make a run in the ACC Tournament. The Panthers won one game in last year’s tournament before falling to Syracuse.
Wake Forest: Questions remain surrounding the future of Wake Forest coach Danny Manning, who is 30-80 overall in ACC regular-season play and has never won an NCAA Tournament game in six seasons.
Pittsburgh: Advances to play fifth-seeded NC State in the second round on Wednesday.
Wake Forest: Season is likely over.