Well, it was more of the same again tonight. Horrible first half followed by stellar second half = Pitt win.
That formula hasn't always worked out to a victory, but it did tonight. I thought this Pitt team had a great chance to go deep into the tournament and while I wouldn't be surprised if they did, part of me doesn't know what to make about this team. They literally look like two different teams at times.
In the first half, they were disinterested, apathetic, and didn't play very well. Not only did they turn it around in the second half, they looked like world beaters.
Not much sense in breaking this game down too much and replaying the stats - it is what it is. Pitt won, all of the starters played well, and the defense was sharp (particularly in the second half). So with that said, I'll move on to some of my general thoughts.
I'll be honest - if you're not worried about Pitt's status, I think you're nuts. Who konws what Pitt team you'll get in the first half of games and I can totally see them getting behind in the first half, then falling just short against an inferior team in the second.
And as the pattern has been, the offense was the prime culprit in the first half. 24 points...against South Florida? Really?
As I'm typing this, Jamie Dixon just said something about feeling good about the way they played in the first half in a post-game interview with Andy Katz.
Look, Dixon clearly knows what he's doing - far more than I or probably 99.8% of the people out there. But sometimes I really wish he'd come down a little harder on the team, at least in public. I don't know how you translate a 23-point first half into playing well and being content. I fully expected Pitt to come out guns blazing after the Louisville loss, but instead, they simply weren't ready to play. And there's no excuse for that.
And I'm not buying this crap about South Florida simply playing too well in the first half. The Bulls shot about 42% from the field and only scored 27 points themselves. I find it hard to believe that if Pitt plays harder, they can't go into halftime with a comfortable lead. There's no reason why the team can't play two halves and as much as I don't want to believe it will happen in the NCAAs, it's really easy to imagine an early exit due to the team's inability to play a full 40 minutes.
That said, when Pitt plays hard, they are definitely one of the best teams in the country. It was against South Florida, but the way they played in the second half was some of their best basketball all season. If that energy could be given over a full game, it's scary to think what this team could accomplish.
The other thing I'll be expounding upon a little later is the bench play. Tonight, the bench contributed six points. This is becoming more and more of a regularity and Pitt's bench is going to have to do more in the tournament.