Blacksburg, Va. – Panthers came crashing down hard, losing to 17-13 Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. The 65-61 loss comes after a dominating win at home, on Sunday afternoon versus Duke. Pitt may have pushed themself back into bubble territory.
Wednesday night’s game was sloppy through and through, but the start was promising. Pitt led early, 8-2, after a three by James Robinson and seemed like the better team. The game completely changed when the Panthers took a 19-10 lead, thanks to a Michael Young lay-up. In a six minute and 20 second time frame they would not make a single field goal, 0-6. Virginia Tech took full advantage of Pitt’s lackluster offense, going on a 12-2 run. Pitt still look like they may salvage the half, leading by two with 30 seconds left. However, the Hokies’ Seth Allen drilled a contested three to take the 27-26 halftime advantage.
The start of the second 20 minutes of play was tight for the first three and a half minutes. Then Virginia Tech seized control of the momentum, due to a Justin Bidds three, Zach LeDay dunk and lay-up, and an Allen lay-up. Pitt fell behind by seven and looked completely out of sorts. That was just the beginning, as Virginia Tech would command roughly a double-digit lead for next eight and a half minutes. The Panthers, trailed 64-54, did make a comeback attempt. The Hokies turned the ball over several times and only scored one point in the last 3:30 of game time, while the Pitt came within three points. Unfortunately, Robinson missed the game tying three and it was all over from there.
Two Panther players were in double figures scoring, Robinson and Young, they had 11 and 16 points respectively.
Did Not Quit- Even though they were down by double digits with very little chance of coming back, the Pitt players still gave their all. Unfortunately, a little more fight earlier on would have been better.
Consistency- Just when it looked like this team turned a corner with a big win versus Duke, they run right into a wall. That wall was Virginia Tech, and it is not a particularly impressive wall at that. This Pitt team has been maddeningly inconsistent all season, which is why it feels like a new team is playing each game.
Shooting- It is hard to win a game if you shoot 3-21 from three. The worst part is they had good looks all night, but it was almost as if they forgot how to shoot. Chris Jones had two of the worst three-point attempts, in the first half, I have ever witnessed.
Tournament Hopes- Pitt still has strong reason to believe they will be in the NCAA tournament, but this loss makes that a little less clear. A win in this game and versus Georgia Tech would have sealed it, but once again Pitt has to make it as hard as possible on themselves.
Offensive Grade: F
Is there any other grade they could have gotten? The simple answer is no. As it has already been stated, they shot 3-21 from three, but also Pitt was below 40% from the field and 60% at the line. The offense had decent looks, but just could not hit shots and it turned into a disaster really quickly. To put this game into some perspective, the last time they met Pitt scored 90, this time they were held to 61.
Defensive Grade: F
Pitt fails on defense due to the crazy level of shooting fouls they committed. Virginia Tech attempted 35 free throws, some of them seemed ticky tacky by the referees, but more than enough had to do with a Panther player being out of position. The defense never looked as locked in as they were during the Duke game, which is a major reason why this game turned out so poorly.
Coaching Grade: F
After beating Duke and having two extremely winnable road games left, Pitt should have rolled into the ACC Tournament. Instead, it looks like they will limp in and possibly exit in the first round. Dixon clearly did not have his team ready and it truly is a shame.
The final regular season awaits Pitt in Atlanta versus Georgia Tech, on Saturday March 5 at 2:00 P.M.