Pitt outplayed by Marquette, falls 79-69

USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was difficult to watch.

First things first, let's not act as Pitt lost to a bad team. Marquette is strong on both ends of the court and is a top 15-20 team without question.They're also unbelievable at home and haven't lost a game there this year. The win over Pitt makes them 14-0 and this isn't a bad loss by any wild stretch of the imagination.

The game proved a few things. For starters, Marquette is just better than Pitt right now. The Panthers almost pulled off an upset in the first game, but needed a late run and a buzzer beater to do it. They kept it close throughout, but trailed nearly the entire game in that one. And when it got to overtime, Marquette simply took over. If you don't think the Golden Eagles are a better team than Pitt, you're just fooling yourself.

The other thing the game proved is that Pitt isn't an elite team. A win against Marquette could have put them in or near the top ten. The No. 9, 10, and 11 teams all lost already this week and with all of Saturday's games to go, the Panthers could have moved up several spots. But Pitt just isn't a top ten team right now. They're good, but not that good.

So onto the actual game.

It's tough to beat anyone that shoots 55% from the field and 45% from three-point range as Marquette did. But when you factor in that they got to the line nearly twice as much as Pitt (29 attempts to 16), it's nearly impossible. Pitt was just outplayed, outshot, and outrebounded, and allowing that many free throws is a difficult thing to overcome.

Only Lamar Patterson and maybe Dante Taylor off the bench had what you could call good games. You could include Tray Woodall there as well since he had ten points and eight assists, but he also shot only 4-11 and had three turnovers. Patterson was the only one who stepped up today with a big game with 19 points, five rebounds, and a couple of steals, but that's not enough to beat a ranked team on the road. Pitt needed other guys to step up and that didn't happen.

The two freshmen didn't have good games, but Talib Zanna is the guy who really disappointed. Even in games where he's not been a factor offensively, he's rebounded well and stayed aggressive on the glass. It's easy to overlook his eight points combined against Syracuse and Louisville because he added 22 boards. But today, he was a complete non-factor with only four points and three rebounds. Pitt just needs more there.

Pitt also had a ton of trouble with Vander Blue. This team just doesn't defend scoring guards well and that's a big reason they could have trouble in the NCAAs. A good guard can easily go off for 20 against Pitt and without a true lockdown defender, that's going to be a reason for concern.

Here's the thing, though. It would have been nice to win this game, but it doesn't hurt the team all that much. Losing to a top 20 team on the road isn't all that bad and shouldn't drop Pitt too far. The Panthers are still solid and this is hardly a reason for panic.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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