Josh Newkirk made this decision tough as he went for a career-high on Monday's loss. The freshman then went through a quiet 39 minutes and 58 seconds before hitting the hard-to-believe game tying shot yesterday as time expired. That was massive for the Panthers and it kept the fan base from jumping off the nearest bridge, but senior Lamar Patterson's solid game on Monday and his 30 point effort yesterday made our decision a little easier. For what seems like the 100th time this season Lamar Patterson is the Panther of the Week.
The week didn't start off as Pitt fans had hoped as their mystifying struggles at The Pete continued in Patterson's last home game, dropping a seven point loss to N.C. State. The loss put the Panthers very close to the NCAA bubble, if not right smack on it. During the defeat, Lamar still put together a solid effort during Newkirk's career best night. It is funny that we talk about Newkirk having such an awesome game with 20 points, one rebound, two assists, and one steal, but we don't talk about Patterson's game nearly enough. That's how much we have come to expect of the senior this season. His 17 points, three rebounds, and six assists not only doesn't make us impressed. We almost consider it a bad game these days.
There was no mistaking yesterday's performance from Patterson. It was big and in more ways then just his stats. The OT win over Clemson probably moved Pitt firmly into the NCAA tourney at this point. Newkirk's shot put Pitt into OT to begin with, but Patterson made sure it did not need another frame to finish off the Tigers on the road. The Lancaster, PA native poured in 30 points, added seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal. The performance also included a 5 for 9 shooting spree from beyond the arc.
Now we look at the post-season for Pitt and who will step up? Who will win this award when it really matters in the conference tournament and NCAA "Big Dance"? This is when it matters the most. Only time will tell and fortunately, that time is coming real soon.