At this point in the season with the way Pitt has been playing, getting that 16th win and thus guaranteeing at least a record of .500 for the season should be the goal. Unfortunately, that goal will have to wait for another game as South Florida completed the season sweep of Pitt by jumping on Pitt's lackadaisical effort on defense in the second half and ultimately winning 56-47 at the Pete.
While Pitt was bad defensively, the offensive side had its moments. USF looked like they may win this one early in the first half when they jumped out to an 11 point lead. But Pitt withstood the blow and fought back to actually take the lead at one point in the first half and entered the break only down 1 point. J.J. Moore was a big reason for that, as he had 2 thunderous dunks to go with 11 first half points that kept Pitt in the game. Moore finished with a team high 21 points.
USF began the second half on another run to grab a 9 point lead early in the second half, but Pitt came back from that as well to get within 3. But then South Florida did what they did to beat Pitt in Tampa - play outstanding defense and force Pitt to make jump shots, which they have struggled to do throughout the season. Pitt once again had difficulties even putting the easy tip shots in the bucket.The starters all struggled shooting the ball against the Bulls. Nasir Robinson led the starting lineup with 9 points, but that came on 4-10 shooting. Lamar Patterson went scoreless while the remaining starters scored a combined 6 points on 3-15 shooting.
The only other bright spot was John Johnson, who had 8 points on 3-5 shooting, including 2-3 from 3. I am anxious to see how Johnson performs next season now that he has one season of significant playing time under his belt and I think he could easily start at shooting guard next season.
It's clear though that this team has pretty much checked out for the season. While they played well to come back from being down double digits, the defensive effort was lacking. USF got way too many open looks or easy drives to the basket. Pitt got careless defensively and committed 20 personal fouls, 10 more than USF committed. Meanwhile, neither Ashton Gibbs nor Tray Woodall got to the free throw line once in the game and as two of Pitt's best free throw shooters, it should be a priority to get them to the line as often as possible. Woodall did sit a lot of the first half because of foul trouble, but they should have worked more to get to the line and get Pitt back in the game late.
This season is not over yet as Pitt goes on the road to face a hot Louisville team on Sunday afternoon before playing their final home game next Wednesday against a young, but talented St. John's team. Pitt closes the regular season at sinking Connecticut before heading to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament. We need just one more win to at least guarantee a .500 finish, but based on what we've seen the past few games, it's going to be tough.