So, what was that?
That was the culmination of all sorts of things gone wrong.
There are times you watch a game, and wonder what happened. This isn't one of those times. Lots of things jumped out, but if you're looking for one overarching theme, it's that Pitt was outhustled. That happens so rarely we forget that the team is even capable of allowing that to happen.
But it's exactly what happened Wednesday night. Don't be fooled - Long Beach State is a good team. But playing at home with one of the great home court advantages in college basketball, this shouldn't happen. Outplaying Long Beach State for most of the game and losing on a last-second shot? Okay, whatever. But to be thoroughly dominated the entire game? Sorry, not buying it.
The rebounding (Pitt lost that battle 25-24 by the very unofficial immediate post-game count) is obviously the thing you want to point to, but when a team shoots 59% from the field, there are less defensive rebounds available. Problem is, though, that Long Beach State wasn't necessarily a hot-shooting team. They feasted off layups and close-range shots. ESPN's Play-by-Play shows that 23 of their 32 made field goals were layups, dunks, or putbacks. In case you don't have an abacus handy, that's an astounding 72%.
Need something to compare that to? This. Only 41% of Pitt's shots were of the same variety. The Panthers simply had to work much harder and produced much less.
And if that weren't enough, there was another key stat.
Pitt's bench was non-existent, scoring a lowly two points. In the entire game.
Freshman John Johnson had the only points (on free throws, no less). The reserves combined were a combined 0-6 in (again, unofficial) 48 minutes of play.
Moore has only played 16 minutes in the two games he's participated in this season after he was suspended from the Albany opener. He was supposed to be the breakout player - the scorer. I'm not sure if his limited playing time is Dixon's way of making him work his way back in after the suspension or if it's due to Patterson playing so well, but one thing's clear - Moore has been MIA so far.
Tray Woodall struggled a bit with five turnovers (which led to some of those transition points I mentioned), but he also shot 5-6 and had 17 points in a game when Pitt needed them. Hard to complain about that even a little.
The good news? This happened in November and not March. Not that it can't happen again sometime around, say, the Sweet 16, but these are the types of games that can provide reminders that the unexpected can happen.
Then there's the question we all have: Is this an anomaly or a sign of things to come this year? Way too early to tell, but Pitt's defense and rebounding have not looked all that great for two games now. The team isn't going to put up 85 points every night and the program has really been built on those two things.
If they're unable to do them we could see a few more of these things.