In the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Pitt basketball loss to seventh seed NC State 80-71. As usual Pitt’s offense played well and their defense was awful. All season long Pitt’s guards have struggled defensively while the forwards have held their own. NC State’s guards amounted for over 70 percent of the Wolfpack’s points. This is the second double digit loss to the Wolfpack this season.
Jamie Dixon has led Pitt to 10 NCAA Tournaments in his first 11 years. Those teams were known to have tough defenses that nobody wanted to face. This year it is a defense that everybody wants to play. The Panthers will play their next game in the NIT starting on March 17.
Cat is Out of the Bag
Pitt could not find any answers on how to stop Anthony “Cat” Barber who had a career-high 34 points. All season the the Panthers have allowed one player catch fire and put up career high numbers. Coming into the game Barber only averaged 12 points per game. He had 21 points at the half which was only two short of Pitt’s total. Barber shot a near perfect 9 of 13 from field and 4 of 5 beyond the arc and was a perfect 12 of 12 from the free throw line. Barber displayed ridiculous speed by beating defenders down the court who were in front of him.
All game the Panthers struggled to stop the penetration from Barber and when they did stop it he would dish it off to an open teammate. Even junior guard Trevor Lacey was able to score 21 points with limited time due to foul trouble. Whether it was Barber crashing to the rim or Lacey making one tough shot after another the Panther’s defense had no answers and fell behind early.
Great Offensive Play Not Enough
Senior guard Cameron Wright led the Panthers with 19 points and four rebounds. Wright shot 7 of 11 from the field and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Center Michael Young added 13 points and eight rebounds. Young should be a forward but because of Pitt’s lack of height he is forced to deal with much bigger centers in the ACC and still puts up good numbers. Most of the game he was forced to battle with Beejay Anya, who is 6’9” and over 300 pounds. The 65 pound difference is a challenge itself and Anya may only be 6’9” but he has a 7’9” wingspan.
Jamel Artis who has been playing great the second half of the season and named to the All-ACC Third Team only scored 12 points. All season Artis has been one of Pitt’s best shooters however he was 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 5 from the three point line. James Robinson who has been struggling to shoot lately shot 1 of 7 from the field and 0 of 2 three pointers. Robinson did have five assists, six rebounds and two steals. As usual the bench only got production from Chris Jones who had 13 points.
The Panthers fell behind early in the game and their great offensive production was not enough to make a comeback. Pitt will not be able to win in the NIT if their defense doesn’t show up to compliment their offense. The Panthers have trouble stopping players who can get hot early in the game. Time after time guards from the other team are having their best game of the year if not their career.