Greensboro, NC – Jorge Diaz Graham calmly dropped a bounce pass intended for his brother, Guillermo, who was rolling to the basket late. Pitt's first round game against Iowa State. The 7-foot freshman slammed it home to give Pitt a 42–30 advantage with 7:11 remaining in the game.
That sequence set up a 10–0 run by Pitt's freshman pair from Spain, and extended Pitt's advantage to 50–30. The Panthers never looked back in a 59–41 demolition of sixth-seeded Iowa State.
“It was an explosion of energy,” Guillermo said of the feed from Jorge. “That ball especially coming from my brother. I knew it was going to be big time. Grateful for the opportunity to be here with him, and it was wonderful. The feeling is wonderful.
Guillermo finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks on Friday in only his second career start. This performance came days after he had a game-changing block in Pitt's dramatic 60–59 victory over Mississippi State in his first career start in the First Four.
Guillermo has gone from a bench player, averaging only 10 minutes per game for most of the season, to being a key piece in the Panthers' two games in the Big Dance so far. The freshman big man had a huge hand in the Panthers' 22–2 rout to open the game, and the subsequent run put Iowa State back in the game.
After committing his second foul in the first half, he was forced to sit on the bench, which certainly played a factor in Iowa State closing the gap before halftime. Diaz Graham sat out the last eight minutes of the first half and the Cyclones made it 30–23 at the break
Pitt bowed out after halftime and kept Iowa State at arm's length until a Diaz Graham to Diaz Graham connection that the Cyclones could never come back from as the Panthers shot through the second period with a world of momentum. We do.
“I don't know; it was awesome,” George said of his brother's dunk that let Pitt through in the final minutes. “Just watching my brother do it, and the funny thing is, like, I think yesterday at practice he snuck on me and Nate (Santos) and he was talking trash. So I Told him, ‘Okay, you want to talk now, but do it in the game.' So he did, and now I have to shut up and say thank you for helping me.
Diaz Graham has brought an infectious energy to this Pitt team all season long off the bench and in the locker room, but on the big stage on Friday and even in Tuesday's victory, he will be an even bigger factor in the Panthers' success. are parts.
Pitt's starting center Federico Federico missed Tuesday's game because of a knee injury. He returned on Friday and played 11 minutes, and while it wasn't a huge performance for Federico, his contribution was helpful for the team from a depth perspective.
‘The minutes that Frederico gave us were huge,' Capel said of his return to starting center. “And to be able to bring him back and be number one, for him to experience it, to experience March Madness and then to come in and play well, to score in the first half, late in the game.” And just the minutes he gave us and the energy he played with was fantastic.
Guillermo Diaz Graham has been a revelation this week, and an unexpected one at that, at least to outsiders. Pitt star Blake Hinson said he saw the performance coming from the freshman.
“Man, he's playing well, really good,” said Hinson of Guillermo's emergence. “I'm more proud than excited, because I always thought he could do it. I'm proud that he's actually showing it.
Pitt needs everyone's contribution to earn two NCAA tournament wins this week, and getting everyone involved will be crucial for a third big dance win against Xavier in the second round on Sunday.
“These two guys, like I said the other night, love basketball,” Capel said of his new twins. “They love to compete. They love the work. They're not afraid of it. They're incredible teammates, and their spirit, their energy, ever since I've known them, they've always been in a good mood and that It's contagious. It's really infected our team.”