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Pitt sneaks by Georgia Tech, 70-65

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, but it got the Panthers above .500 in the ACC.

Pitt had some ups and downs today, but in the end, snuck out of The Pete with a 70-65 win against Georgia Tech.

The Panthers didn't look too bad, but certainly had any number of issues that could have kept them from winning. The team shot a modest 44% from the field and were 2-11 from three-point range, while Georgia Tech knocked down six from long range. Pitt was also killed on the boards, on the wrong end of a 39-29 buttkicking on the glass. The rebounding was particularly troubling as Georgia Tech not only routinely got some good bounces but were just a little more aggressive. To lose the rebounding battle by a few isn't too bad. Ten? That's just flat out ugly.

In the end, though, Georgia Tech was worse overall. The Yellow Jackets shot below 40% from the field and were forced into 15 turnovers to the Panthers' six. They just weren't able to get out of their own way at times and the completely flubbed wide open layup was a good example of that.

Zebras were bad on both sides to me. Two completely botched plays were a missed foul on Cam Wright as he made pretty good contact with a Georgia Tech player driving to the bucket. On the Panthers' end, they also missed a Georgia Tech three-pointer that clearly came after the shot clock had expired. Even in real time, both calls seemed pretty to me (at least with the benefit of watching on TV). There were also many other plays that had both coaches up in arms the entire game.

Cam Wright, Jamel Artis, and Michael Young all turned in big performances today, combining for 56 points. Cam also added four steals and he and Artis led the way with 20 points each. One of Wright's steals stretched Pitt's lead to four and forced the Yellow Jackets into a timeout.

The biggest problem for Wright has been his inconsistency on offense - defensively, he's still managed to make an impact. He had 20 today and 18 against Clemson last weekend, but against Florida State, Boston College, and North Carolina State in the team's other three ACC games, he was only 7-27 from the field, averaging only six points a game. One can only hope that he's starting to heat up a little bit because Pitt is a much better team when he's contributing offensively.

And unlike other games, Pitt actually closed the deal down the stretch at the free throw line, making nine of their final ten from the charity stripe. Georgia Tech still made things somewhat close at the end cutting the lead to only three with a minute left in the game, but Pitt's composure at the line put things out of reach.

I continue to be amazed at the poor shooting (and sometimes, poor decisions) by James Robinson. Robinson's shot selection is curious at best and too often, he seems too interested in forcing things. On one play, he drove to the basket, which is better, of course than hoisting up a jump shot. But he was so out of control that his layup attempt missed badly. He continues to take three-point shots despite making only 26% from beyond the arc and is turning the ball over nearly twice as much this season than he did last year (1.9 per game as opposed to 1.0 last year) despite playing about the same amount of minutes.

Robinson was 1-7 today and in the midst of a terrible slump, shooting 7-29 from the field over his last four games, connecting on only 24% of his attempts.

I've said this over and over, but Pitt doesn't need him to be a star offensively. But shooting that poorly just puts even more pressure on the rest of the team to counter that. He's fortunate that Wright, Artis, and Young, did as much as they did - otherwise, the Panthers would have run into trouble since his backup, Josh Newkirk, didn't do much today.

Another small thing of note is that Aron Nwankwo-Phillips appears to be in the lineup for good ... at least for now. He didn't provide the offensive spark he did against Florida State and was scoreless after missing his only attempt (a short one inside), but he grabbed two rebounds off the bench in limited minutes and more importantly, was just very aggressive. It's easy to see that he's a senior since he looks pretty comfortable out there.

I don't know how much he'll play every game, but he's proving he should at least be out there to play some minutes at center since Pitt is better served by allowing Young to play at power forward when they can. Aron's offensive game is limited and if the Panthers end up relying on him too much, that won't be a good thing. But in 8-12 minutes a game, he can be a fine player.

One of the announcers talked about Pitt possibly turning the corner but I'd hesitate to say that right now. This is still a very limited team and I'm going to discuss that a little more later on.

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