Pitt Basketball: Panthers Drop Rare Home Game To Notre Dame

Pitt for some odd reason can't shake the Notre Dame jinx. They've now lost three straight to the Irish and four out of the last five.

It's a good thing Pitt doesn't have that much trouble with all Big East teams.

Pitt was just flat out ...well, flat. And right after jumping to No. 2 in the polls, no less. I don't know if it was the late Saturday game, the fact that the team is in the midst of what is kind of an easier stretch of Big East games, or what, but Pitt just didn't play all that great. The defense was fine (until late in the game, anyway, when they couldn't get a stop), but Notre Dame still managed to shoot about 50% from the field. Still, you hold a team to 56 points and you're generally expected to win.

I found it interesting that the words 'Burn' and 'Hansbrough' found their way into the same paragraph, because Hansbrough certainly burned Pitt at times. Understandably, he was pretty happy with the win:

Employing a methodical, plodding game plan they call "burn," the Irish won their third consecutive game in the series against Pittsburgh and picked up their first victory at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers won 51 of their previous 52 home games.

"This was the first time we committed to an all-out 'burn,' and we beat Pitt doing it two times last year," said Hansbrough, who went 8 for 14 from the field. "This is probably the best win I've had ... maybe ever."

On Pitt's side, everyone had reasons why they lost:

"We were a little selfish," Pitt senior Gilbert Brown said. "We did a lot of things uncharacteristic, and you see the outcome. That's the reason why we lost."

Dixon:

"(Notre Dame) deserved to win," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "They made the plays down the stretch. ... At times, we rushed some shots, and it kept us from getting where we wanted to be. Quick shots and turnovers get magnified when it's a low-possession game."

Wanamaker:

"I don't think we played our game today," Panthers guard Brad Wanamaker said. "As you've seen in games past, we played together and passed the ball around and got everybody shots. I don't think we did that today. We kind of rushed it a little bit."

Gil:

Notre Dame employed the same patient style of play it used to beat Pitt twice last season. The Fighting Irish worked the shot clock running set plays and making the extra pass -- ingredients Pitt had used during its torrid Big East start.

"That's their formula for us," Brown said. "It's worked the past three games. We are usually the team that grinds it out and plays a half-court set."

But it all came back to those clean looks Notre Dame had at the end:

We just couldn’t contain him (Hansbrough) off the dribble. I was surprised with how he was able to beat us – he played well.

That was maybe the most frustrating part - the way Notre Dame got to the basket at will near the end of the game. That's when Pitt's defense is supposed to be at its best and, instead, it was at its worst.

It's difficult for me to say that Pitt didn't play hard in this game. They just didn't shoot well and Notre Dame's patience really limited the effectiveness of Pitt's offense, which has excelled this year. None of Pitt's starters could get going and Gary McGhee was the only one who shot 50% from the field, going a meager 2-4.

I don't know, I definitely wasn't expecting a loss in this game - especially since Pitt is so good at home and Notre Dame has been so bad on the road this season, going 0-3. But it's hard for me to get too worked up over this game. There are going to be off nights as the Tennessee game showed us and tonight was one of those games. This definitely hasn't been a pattern this year and losing to a top 15 team, even at home, is no cause for great shame.

Pitt should get things turned around Saturday when it faces former assistant Mike Rice and Rutgers.

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