No, friends, that's not a football score.
Pitt fell to Cincinnati 44-43 in the Jimmy V Classic on ESPN on Tuesday and as you can tell by the title, this wasn't an offensive display to be seen.
Both teams shot under 40% from the field, but Pitt at 33% was significantly worse than Cincinnati at 38%. The teams shot a combined 5-24 from three-point range. Pretty much every offensive stat you can think of was horrid.
For the first time this year, Pitt didn't make plays down the stretch. Lamar Patterson missed not one, but two free throws with the Panthers up by one late. After a miss by Cincinnati, Pitt allowed the Bearcats to get an offensive rebound (yeah, I'll get to that in a bit). And, with nearly five seconds left, the best shot Pitt could get off was a halfcourt heave by Cameron Wright.
If you're looking for a reason Pitt lost the game (other than the abysmal offense, of course), look no further than the rebounding totals. The Panthers weren't only beaten on the boards, but throttled, 34-25. The offensive rebounding for Cincinnati was really what killed Pitt. The Bearcats won that battle 14-6 and Pitt looked horrendous at times under the rim allowing Cincinnati players to basically beat them to the ball.
Heck, the only reason Pitt was able to keep it close was because of the free throws. Cincinnati took only three attempts (nope, not a typo) all game while Pitt mustered 29. Just a huge disparity there and if the Bearcats get to the line even a little bit more, this isn't even a game.
So yeah, cue the talk about Pitt not deserving to be ranked. I'm not buying it.
As I said after the Penn State game, games like this happen. There have been a ton of upsets this year in college basketball and a loss to a decent Cincinnati team on a neutral court is hardly an embarrassing loss. The way Pitt shot? Horrible. But that's stuff that just doesn't happen very often. Coming into the game, Pitt shot 49.5% from the field, good for 26th in the NCAA ... so you tell me which is the exception and not the rule.
Look, I'm not going to say this wasn't a painful loss, but a reason to disqualify Pitt from the Top 25? Hardly. To act as if the Panthers can't possibly be a ranked team because of one terrible shooting night is the height of insanity. I won't argue as strongly that they should be a Top 25 team based on tonight's game, but I still think that they are one.
This is not a bad team - rather, it's a team that had a bad shooting night. Go back to UConn's national championship game against Butler. You know, this one? Seriously, were those bad teams because they both came out and laid an egg on national TV? This isn't a team with a history of shooting woes. It's one of the best shooting teams in college basketball so far that, well, didn't shoot very well in a single game. Ease up.
Pitt needs to get better - this game proved that. It wasn't just the shooting but also the way they were outhustled on the boards. But keep in mind this is a very young team. A true freshman is starting and three true freshmen and two sophomores are getting significant minutes. These guys will get better and to write this team off now would be an utter mistake.