Well, that wasn't the way you like to see Pitt close out games, right?
Other than a fast start by Maryland, Pitt appeared to be cruising. The team even had a ten-point lead with under three minutes left and another double-digit victory on the road looked probable. But while the Panthers pushed the lead into double figures, they could never fully get away from the Terps and had to hang on for an 83-79 win. Maryland even got it to within five with 30 seconds left and after a turnover, had a chance to cut it to three. They missed the ensuing three-pointer, though, and the Panthers did just enough to win.
It wasn't pretty at the end and you can bet that Jamie Dixon will be harping on that. But as I said in the preview, there were several reasons why the Terps could keep this one close. The final minutes were disappointing, but you can't be too upset, really. Conference road wins are difficult and when you factor in that Maryland is a desperate team, it was hard to see them laying down for this one.
The name of the game in this one was fouls, boys and girls. There were a combined 49 and fortunately, 29 of them went to Maryland. Pitt got to the line a whopping 47 times. Inexplicably, they made the first 16 and then promptly converted only about 50% the rest of the way. Just no reason for that and it was a complete lack of focus, really. Plus, when you throw in Pitt's 17 turnovers, they played a bit too sloppy.
Alright, let's try to stay positive here.
Fortunately none of that cost them. A win is a win is a win and with the victory, Pitt is due for another bump up in the polls. Winning on the road in your conference is always a solid resume booster and this one's no different.
Pitt got another huge effort from Lamar Patterson. Not only did he score 28 points, but nearly had a triple double with seven points and seven rebounds. Talib Zanna was also very aggressive and had 16 points and eight boards.
Patterson is really scoring in bunches, but the thing that continues to amaze me is his passing. He's not just piling up assists (his seven were more than twice as many as anyone else on the team), but is just so good at it. He really does a good job of drawing defenders because of his scoring ability and finding the open man. Many of his assists are extraordinary passes and his game is just so smooth when he has the ball in his hands.
Mike Young continued to be a bit of a weakness in the starting lineup. I don't have the minutes count yet, but it seemed like he played a good bit. To be fair, he did contribute five rebounds, but only had two points and added a couple of turnovers. Jamel Artis, conversely, gave Pitt a nice boost off the bench. He also had two turnovers, but had eight points and seven rebounds.
I'm not sure where the Young experiment goes from here. Part of me says he's only going to learn by playing, but you also don't want it to get to a point where it hurts the team. I could live with not much scoring and the five boards a night, but often, he ends up with fewer than that. Pitt is having success as a team so no huge reason to upset the apple cart, I suppose. Still, you'd like to see more out of that position if he continues eating up 20+ minutes a night.
I don't know that an Artis swap for him in the starting lineup makes a ton of improvement right now and he's been a bit streaky, too, for the record. But I do think how he continues to play with Durand Johnson out is worth watching. If he does well with the minutes he gets, things could interesting.
Onto Duke, friends. Not too much time to prepare, obviously. Duke played today as well, but were at home for a noon game. Pitt, on the other hand, will get home late tonight and then will try to get ready. The game is at home for the Panthers ... and that's the good news.
But yeah, quick turnaround here.