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Pitt comeback attempt falls short to #2 Virginia

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The Panthers hung tough, but ultimately fall to second ranked Virginia by 12.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Staring a 25-15 deficit in the face coming out of halftime, the Pitt/Virginia game could have gone in one of two ways in the second half. The Panthers came out with a better plan of attack and made a game of it against the heavily favored Cavaliers, but ultimatley fell short by a score of 61-49.  At one point in the second half, Pitt had the game cut to a 36-33 margin, but the Panthers did not get any closer than that as Virginia flexed their muscles down the stretch to put away PItt.

After watching this game for a half, this one could have been gotten really, really ugly.  Pitt had no continuity on offense and not only were their shots not falling, they were struggling to get shots off against the vaunted Virginia pack-line defense. Thanks in large part to a cold Virginia shooting night, the Panthers managed to find themselves down just ten at the half.

Pitt came out in the second half and really battled, and while they lost by 12 points, one thing sticks out that could have made this one even closer: foul shots. Pitt finished the day 9-17, but at one time they were only 3-11 from the line. It was a daunting task to go into Charlottesville and expect to win, but Pitt certainly had their chances in the second half and showed some resolve after a horrible first half.

Jamel Artis continued his torrid pace with another 20 point game, and chipped in 8 rebounds as well. The 6'7" sophomore made four three-pointers in the contest, and really gave Pitt some big shots during key parts of the game. Sheldon Jeter was the other bright spot for Pitt as he posted 10 points and 6 boards, and was a big reason Pitt got themselves back into the game as he opened the second half with 7 straight points. Chris Jones had 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench as he was the only other Pitt player that did much of anything.

Pitt got nothing from James Robinson or Mike Young in this one. Robinson was hounded by constant UVA pressure, and Young was pummeled in the paint all night long against the physical Cavaliers. Cam Wright and Josh Newkirk were a little better, but not by much.

Nobody really expected Pitt to win this game, and this is one they can probably just look past and get ready for a more winnable game against Syracuse on Saturday. A win here would have done wonders for their tournament hopes, but in the end, Virginia is ranked second for a reason. They were just better than Pitt in every way.  Pitt showed some toughness by hanging around, and battling to keep this one close, and I think it just shows they are starting to find themselves as a team.  Hopefully Pitt can look past this one and get ready for a trip to the Carrier Dome.