Pittsburgh 82, Louisville 77.
I still don’t know how Pitt won this game. Let’s be honest, they’ve gotten very lucky these past five games. Has Pitt made their own luck to some extent? No doubt, Pitt has played great basketball. Their all out effort has a funny way of paying off in the last five minutes of close games.
Did Pitt making their own luck have anything to do with Louisville shooting 10-17 from the foul line?
No, the Panthers dodged a huge bullet. Pitino called this the second toughest loss of his career for a reason. Louisville had this game won and they pissed it away.
Sidenote 1: Pitt opponents have shot 63.5 percent from the charity stripe which is the 25th worst percentage in the nation. One would have to figure that will change.
Did Louisville pissing this game away make me enjoy the victory any less? Of course not, what a gutsy effort from the kittens!
If Pitt was going to win this game, they were going to have to kill Louisville on the boards; they out-rebounded the Cardinals 37-23.
If Louisville was going to win they were going to have to dominate the turnover battle. Winning the turnover battle 14-10 against a Pitt team that doesn’t take particularly great care of the ball and rarely forces turnovers is not dominating.
I suppose I just answered my own question as to how Pitt won.
The biggest reasons Pitt was able to pull this game out were their were ability to break Louisville’s pressure and their new found propensity for hitting their free throws. The Panthers shot 24 of 30 from the line against the Cardinals. Two of Pitt’s historic weaknesses were actually their strengths in this game.
Sidenote 2: I mentioned in my preview that Trey Woodall’s performance against the press would tell us a lot about him. Trey had three turnovers in only eight minutes. I don’t want to give up on the kid because he’s still young, but those numbers are telling.
What I like most about this team is that anybody is capable of stepping up. Last season when I wrote a Bleacher Report column titled “This Week at the Pete,” I would give out a game ball for every game. Blair and Young won the loins share of the game balls last year.
I’m going to go back and assign game balls since Big East play started:
DePaul- Ashton Gibbs
Syracuse- Ashton Gibbs, Jermaine Dixon
Cinci- Gilbert Brown
UConn- Gary McGhee, Brad Wanamaker
Louisville- Nasir Robinson
Sidenote 3: Nasir! Who knew he had a 26 and 11 in him? Who knew he could take his man off the bounce and finish like that? What a performance by “The Warrior.” If you haven’t read Jamie Dixon’s postgame quotes about Nasir’s performance, I suggest you do because they immediately made me rethink how I felt about Nasir’s game. Ron Cook’s peace on Gary McGhee is a must read as well.
Anybody is capable of rising to the moment on this team, and that’s what makes them dangerous. Despite their inexperience, despite their deficiencies, they’re all winners. They all have a knack for finding a way to get it done.
But will they get it done against Georgetown?
For the first time in a long time, Pitt will play a team that is equally comfortable playing a half-court game. Probably a good thing for the Big East that this won't be nationally televised because I’m not sure how much appeal this game will have to the casual fan. It could be ugly.
Pitt has momentum, Pitt has heart, Pitt plays tenacious defense. The same could be said for Georgetown. These teams are very similar, and Pitt will not have many mismatches to exploit against the Hoyas.
Pitt has home court advantage, Georgetown has Greg Monroe. The Panthers have not faced a big man like Monroe yet this season.
Think back to the Louisville game, how did Louisville get their points?
They either went to Semardo Samuels (25 points) on the block or they drove into the paint and kicked to Preston Knowles who scored 21 on the strength of five of seven three-point shooting.
Greg Monroe can score like Samuels and pass like a guard. With the problems Pitt has had defending post players coupled with Monroe’s ability to find the open guard on the perimeter, a triple-double isn’t out of the question for the Sophomore big man.
Too much Monroe coupled with too much luck in their previous five games means the Panther’s run comes to an end Wednesday night. Georgetown 65, Pitt 58.
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