Pitt’s late season slide carried over to the ACC Tournament as they dropped their first, and only game, to NC State 81-70. The Panther’s inability to defend ruined any chance to advance. Anthony “Cat” Barber did anything he wanted to do on the court leading the Wolfpack attack with 34 points. He was simply too fast and too good for the Pitt guards to defend.
Pitt was lead by Cameron Wright’s 19 points but were never really in the game as NC State maintained an 8-12 point lead throughout most of the game. The game was a microcosom of the Panther’s season. The could not stop penetration, only forced five turnovers, and had no protection at the rim having no blocked shots. James Robinson shot 1-7 and had only 2 points. Michael Young had another solid preformance with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Jamel Artis chipped in 12 points but was 3-13 shooting.
Pitt played poor defense all year and that is the main reason they will be playing in the NIT when next week rolls around. They give up easy penetration and have no inside defensive presence to make up for the poor perimiter defense. Looking ahead to next year I am not sure how this gets fixed. Durand Johnson will be back but he is a scorer not a top notch defender. James Robinson is a solid point guard but is limited athleticly. Josh Newkirk has the quickness but often can’t defend without fouling. Chris Jones is not a good defender either. Inside Michael Young is a solid post up defender but not a rim protector. Joseph Ochebo is limited physically and Jamel Artis is an average defender. The only way the defensive issues get fixed is if incoming center Rozelle Nix can be the rim protector that is needed and Freshman guard Damon Wilson is a great defender.
Pitt should be in great shape offensively next year. Michael Young is a solid post scorer, Jamel Artis developed into an All ACC type player, Durand Johnson can be an elite scorer, and Chris Jones can light it up on occasion. The Panthers may need to learn to outscore teams more than the typical outwork and outrebound formula that has been a staple of the Jamie Dixon era.