Maryland started off a bit hot, but Pitt eventually wore them down for a fairly comfortable, 79-59 win.
Lots of guys played well and you can make a case for several players for Player of the Game. Lamar Patterson was again the Panthers' best player, and finished with 19 points on 8-12 shooting. Patterson is really proving me wrong a bit as I've always thought of him more as a good player but not a go to guy. But that's clearly inaccurate and he's bringing it night in and night out. To doubt Patterson as a skilled player is a pretty foolish notion right now.
But the guy that really proved his worth tonight was Durand Johnson. DJ had a career-high 17 points, including 15 in the first half. The team is just a completely different one with him out there contributing and it was good to see him put his recent struggles aside. I think Johnson is a moderately streaky player so you can expect some more off nights. But he played really, really well against Maryland and that's part of the reason I said earlier that Jamie Dixon just had to keep feeding him minutes. Eventually, some of those shots are going to fall.
As an aside, Josh Newkirk also played well again off the bench, hitting three of his four shots to finish with eight points. Pitt won't rely on him too much this year, but he's got the look of a player that could take on a significantly bigger role next season. I'm still not sure how much he'll play with the returning backcourt of James Robinson and Cam Wright, but he'll get his minutes to be sure.
Speaking of Cam, he's been in a bit of a mini slump. He's only 6-22 in the past two games and is averaging 7.5 points so far in the ACC. It's good to see him still contributing defensively as he's had five steals in conference play, but would be nice to see him a bit more efficient on offense.
On the Terps' side, Maryland really went cold in the second half. The Terps shot 42% from the field in the first half, but only about 35% over the last 20 minutes. And considering they were at 50% with only a few minutes left in the first half, they really went cold over the final 25 minutes.
I continue to be pretty unimpressed with Pitt's rebounding. They were better on the glass than they were against North Carolina State, but still only managed to tie (unofficially) Maryland there at 36 apiece. On the offensive glass, Pitt was beaten nine to six and the Panthers have to get better there.
In that regard, one thing to track will be the playing time of Derrick Randall. Randall is a decent rebounder but has only been playing limited minutes while freshman Mike Young gets more playing time. Young had only two rebounds tonight and while he's been good at times on the glass, has been wildly inconsistent there. Despite getting 22 minutes a game over his past five contests, he is averaging fewer than four rebounds per night. In three of those five games, he's had only two boards. That just won't cut it as a starting power forward on a team that's core is built around rebounding ... particularly when he's getting so many minutes. It will be interesting to see if Randall picks up more minutes if the rebounding woes continue.
The Panthers still aren't ranked, so yeah, this is where the point I start talking about how ridiculous it is that they're not. For a team that has only a single loss by a single point, it's borderline insanity that Pitt still can't get into the Top 25. That's not to say that we can make concrete judgments about how good this team is, but the Panthers, based on their record, should probably be in the Top 25 by this point. Pitt doesn't just continue beating teams, but they're winning comfortably. We can debate how good/bad Maryland is, but a 20-point conference win over anyone is impressive.
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