Pittsburgh has spent the better part of a decade as an afterthought. Bottoming out in the Atlantic Coast Conference will do that.
The program’s long, slow rise back to relevance under Jeff Capel appears to finally be gaining traction.
The latest proof came in a 71-68 victory over No. 20 Miami on Saturday, a game that required a stirring late rally, a handful of defensive stops and something intangible but just as important: belief.
Blake Hinson tipped in a Jamarius Burton miss with 31 seconds to go to put Pitt (15-7, 8-3) in front and the Panthers forced the Hurricanes (16-5, 7-4) into a flurry of late miscues to earn their third win over a ranked opponent this season.
“I have so much appreciation for this team and what we’re doing,” said Burton, who finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, two of them in the final minute.
Burton is one of the few holdovers from a group that shuffled through an 11-win season a year ago, usually in front of a sparse crowd at the Petersen Events Center. Capel retooled through the transfer portal in the offseason, and after a sluggish start Pitt has recovered to win 14 of 17 while building a resume that could have it in NCAA tournament consideration for the first time since 2016.
This may have been the most improbable of the bunch.
Miami led by as much as 11 and went up 68-60 on a Norchad Omier dunk with 2:26 to go. The Hurricanes wouldn’t score again as Pitt closed on an 11-0 run.
“We obviously don’t want turnovers,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “A couple of times we thought we had great opportunities to finish the play and we didn’t.”
Jordan Miller led the Hurricanes with 18 points. Isaiah Wong added 14 but Miami committed three of its 12 turnovers in the final 35 seconds as the Panthers stormed back.
Burton stripped Wong with 35 seconds left and raced downcourt. His layup bounced out but Hinson followed to give the Panthers their first lead since the middle of the first half.
Wong attempted to back Burton down in the lane but Burton wrested the ball free. Pitt turned it over on the ensuing inbounds but Miami’s Wooga Poplar gave it away. Greg Elliott made two free throws at the other end with 2.5 seconds to go and Wong’s last-second heave was short as the first sellout crowd at Pitt since 2019 erupted.
The finish perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise. Pitt is 5-1 in conference play in games decided by three points or less, as a group thrown together over the summer — many of them making essentially their last stand as college players — has organically gelled into a selfless and cohesive unit.
“I think the belief is there, it’s strong,” Capel said. “They believe in each other more than anything and as a coach, that’s really cool to see.”
Miami: The experienced Hurricanes seemed firmly in control for long stretches but their inability to execute in the final seconds was surprising for a team that reached the Elite Eight last season.
Pittsburgh: On a day the program honored the 2003 team that won the school’s first Big East championship, the current Panthers borrowed a page from that storied group’s book and used suffocating defense down the stretch to win.
A conference title for Pitt may be asking a bit much, but they have forced their way into the NCAA tournament conversation, a welcome change for a program that’s been synonymous with losing since Jamie Dixon left for TCU in the spring of 2016.
Miami: Hosts Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh: Visits North Carolina on Wednesday. The Panthers beat the Tar Heels at home on Dec. 30.
Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail
Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.
Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.
Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.
“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”
Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”
The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.
Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.
Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.
While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.
Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans
Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.
“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.
Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.
We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.
Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.
They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.
Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.
The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal
‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price
Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.
What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?
It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.
The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.
A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.
Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.
She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.
Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.
“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.
It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.
She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.
“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.
The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.
Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.
“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.
Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.
She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.
“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.
In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.
News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.
“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.
One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”
That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.
No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.
Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.
They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.
“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.
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