Pittsburgh swept through its Thanksgiving week schedule with home wins against Alabama State, Fairleigh Dickinson and William & Mary, needing strong, second-half spurts to pull away each time.

Has something been amiss with the Panthers in the first 20 minutes of games entering Monday’s visit to Evanston, Ill., to play Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge?

“I wish I could tell you. It’s frustrating,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “I don’t know if there’s something we need to change in warmups, but we need to figure it out. As we move forward, the competition increases, starting on Monday. If you dig yourself a hole in these next three games, it will be difficult to dig out of.”

Pitt (4-3) is coming off Friday’s 80-64 win against William & Mary. Trailing 37-33 at halftime, the Panthers relied on the second double-double of the season from Blake Hinson, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Nike Sibande narrowly missed a double-double, contributing 15 points and nine boards.

Monday’s game begins a three-game road trip for the Panthers, with upcoming stops at North Carolina State and Vanderbilt.

Northwestern (5-1) absorbed its first defeat Wednesday, losing 43-42 to No. 13 Auburn in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge.

After Chase Audige made a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats ahead 40-39 with three minutes to go, Northwestern struggled to score down the stretch.

Shooting struggles were the norm throughout the night. The Wildcats shot 14 of 56 (25 percent) for the game and 2 of 24 (8.3 percent) from deep.

The Wildcats blocked eight Auburn shots. Despite the outcome, Northwestern coach Chris Collins appreciated the experience of bringing the team abroad for an early-season road trip.

“I think sometimes with some of our travels, we kind of take for granted what that means for a young person to be able to make a trip like this,” he said. “To come here to Mexico, to a great venue, (you) learn about the culture, meet new people and play high-level basketball.”

–Field Level Media