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Pitt holds on for 112-106 (lol) win over Marshall

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

"Pitt holds on for win against (fill in the blank)." Sense a theme here?

After the football game lost a lead in the second half, the Pitt men's basketball team tried to do the same on Wednesday night against Marshall. Fortunately, they were able to hold on for a 112-106 win.

I'm not sure about you, but I'm glad we're getting out of the non-conference schedule. Pitt had quite a few challenges out of conference this year, but they've often gotten bored with opponents after racing out to early leads.

Now, the score, as ridiculous as it sounds, wasn't completely out of the blue. As I mentioned in the gamethread/preview, these types of games are really Marshall's MO. They've scored at least 95 points in more than half of their games this year, so this is pretty typical for them.

Marshall shoots about 30 threes a game to basically try to outscore their opponent while playing very little defense. Coaches that play this style will give all sorts of varied answers about why it makes sense. But ultimately, the hope is that instead of playing 'regular' basketball and losing by 20 to good teams, they can find their rhythm in taking a ton of shots, hope their opponent is a little off offensively, and keep things close. Again, lots of different philosophies but hat's really the crux of it. Sometimes it works (like it did for them earlier this year in taking a ranked Cincinnati team to overtime) but often it doesn't since, well, it's harder to get as many clean looks on offense against better teams.

Tonight, Marshall took exactly 30 threes but made only ten. Not enough.

The Panthers led by as much as 29 in the second-half but Marshall was red hot in the second half helping them to close that gap considerably.

Marshall was in the zone in the second half, so this wasn't all about Pitt, mind you. The Thundering Herd shot over 60% in the final 20 minutes and that will be enough to beat almost anyone. But some of that was surely due to less defensive pressure as the Panthers took their foot off the gas since that happens quite a bit with this team. If this were a one-game deal, it would be much easier to attribute it to Marshall simply shooting better and making things close. But we've seen this far too much to suggest that it's less about Pitt.

At this point, we've seen this drill enough times to know that things aren't going to change when the Panthers have big leads. They'll generally be susceptible to big leads because teams will get hot or they just won't be capable of caring enough to keep the pressure up. Or both. Frustrating, but I've resigned myself to the fact that it is what it is.

The good news is that if you don't like these sorts of games is that you should be seeing fewer of them. Pitt may get out to some big leads in ACC games but not nearly as many. If they want to win, they'll be forced to play through until the end in the conference.

Pitt scored over 100 points so obviously there were a lot of big games offensively. Jamel Artis and Michael Young  combined for 60 points, scoring 30 each. Sheldon Jeter had probably his best game of the year with 21 points and ten rebounds, and Cameron Johnson chipped in with 16.

The most interesting development here from a personnel standpoint is that Pitt was without Chris Jones, who has a foot injury of some sort. True freshman Justice Kithcart started in his place and was remarkably very good. He had six points and eight rebounds in what was easily his best career game. Pitt is so thin that they can't really afford to be missing Jones for too long. But at the same time, a game like this for Kithcart should help him moving forward. It gives him a little more confidence and some momentum heading into ACC play. For the first time this year, I looked at what he did and can see him as a starter next year. Not that he'll become an immediate star but he was a solid contributor, which is big for creating some additional depth this season.

One minor footnote here is that Ryan Luther went completely scoreless, missing on all three of his attempts. I didn't see him out there a ton but he has easily been Pitt's best bench player. To see him scoreless after scoring a combined 31 in the team's last two games was a bit of a surprise.

Pitt finishes the non-conference schedule at 11-2 and has now won five straight games. With a pretty challenging slate, that's solid. The Duquesne loss was rough, but Pitt did just about everything else right and with games against SMU, Marquette, Maryland, Penn State, and some others that could be decent teams, I've got no real complaints.

Next up is a huge New Year's Eve matchup against No. 24 Notre Dame.

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