Jamie Dixon’s quest for win number 300 will have to wait, at least until Wednesday if not longer, as the Pitt Panthers dropped a home game to Clemson 71-62. The Panthers started the game looking good on offense and racing out to a 11-8 lead against the Tigers. Clemson then switched to a 2-3 zone and the Panthers offense struggled. Even as the Panthers shot 39.6% from the field the story of the game was not the inept Panthers offense, it was the defense that failed the Panthers more.
Pitt was outrebound by a 39-22 margin. The -17 on the boards was the worst performance for Pitt this century. Center Joseph Uchebo who gave the Panthers a spark of the bench against BC played 8 minutes and did not register a single point or rebound. Sheldon Jeter who looked great on Tuesday night scored 1 point on Saturday. The Pitt bench only scored 7 points and did not have a single rebound among them.
The Panthers found themselves down by as much as 11 points in the first half after a 4 minute stretch of not scoring a single point. Pitt actually played well for a short stretch in the 2nd half and evened the score at 44-44 with a jamel Artis jumpshot. Clemson then went on a 12-2 run as Pitt went 5 minutes without a point.
The lone bright spot for Pitt was Cameron Wright. The senior guard scored 18 points on 8-11 shooting and looked like the only Panther interested in the outcome of the game. After the game Cam had this to say “They came in here and kicked our tail on the glass. It’s plain and simple. They wanted it more.” This statement is hard for Pitt fans to comprehend because for years the Panthers were built on outworking and outrebounding their opponents. Chris Jones added 11 points on 3-6 shooting from 3 point land. james Robinson and Michael Young scored 9 a piece and Artis added 8 for the Panthers.
Clemson is not a good basketball team. They struggle to score points and have to rely on outrebound their foes to win. That is exactly what the Panthers allowed to happen. That does not bode well for Pitt down the road. Pitt is going to be undersized in most of their ACC games and will need to improve their overall team rebounding to be competitive.
The way this roster is currently constructed is a major problem. This team looks really bad when James Robinson is on the bench. There is no true center that is contributing at this time. Uchebo has the talent but a bad knee. Derrick Randall does not even get any minutes anymore. The forward position is loaded with four guys in Young, Jeter, Luther, and Artis that have similar games. Young is being forced to play center and is undersized for the position. Newkirk is tough to figure out and looks at times like he is being held back by Dixon’s grinding offense. With the suspension of Durand Johnson and the injury to Cameron Johnson there is no pure shooter on the roster.
The Panthers needed a strong start to conference play given their schedule. That has not happened as they are now 1-2 in ACC play and 11-5 overall. They are at the halfway point in their season and right now the NCAA tournament looks like it is a fading dream.
Clemson was led by F Jaron Blossomgame who had 18 points and 6 boards
New Pitt Football coach Pat Narduzzi spoke to the crowd at halftime.
Pitt plays this Wednesday against FSU at the Pete