Earlier, I had written that I hinted that Towson was a little overrated despite a 10-1 start. They even had a vote in the Top 25 last week, which is kind of hilarious given they hadn’t beaten anyone and had several close wins over some pretty weak competition. This week, they dropped their second game of the year, losing by 11 to Oakland.
Tonight against Pitt, Towson sort of proved my point as the Panthers came back for a 63-59 win. The Panthers didn’t dominate Towson, obviously, but that Pitt won despite playing so poorly shows that Towson just isn’t real good.
Lately, Pitt had been shooting a ton of three-pointers. That was fine because they were knocking them down at a pretty good clip. Against Delaware State, they shot 35 and made 37% of them. They took 33 against McNeese and made 42% of them. But tonight proved why that’s not always a great strategy.
The Panthers took 28 three-pointers against Towson and made only seven. Surprisingly, might not have even been Pitt’s biggest problem. The team also turned the ball over 21 times and when you combine that with shooting only 39% from the field, those are games you’re going to lose most of the time. That Pitt shot so poorly and turned the ball over so much is a greater indictment on Towson than it is a good performance by the Panthers.
Pitt showed real heart down the stretch - don’t get me wrong. They trailed much of the game and were down by nine with less than six minutes left. They were able to win the game by making some key shots at the end and it was a really big win for the team as far as I’m concerned. But to win with all of the turnovers and shooting so poorly proves the opponent wasn’t real good. Towson got a great game from guard Zane Martin, who was downright unguardable at times but he had zero help and I remain convinced that they’re not a great team, despite the record.
On Pitt’s side, no one really went off. I was pretty pleased with what Terrell Brown did with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. His offense needs some work but he was pretty aggressive tonight. He had a great move to the basket before being fouled, which even showed some assertiveness on his part. He played 24 minutes tonight and the more time he gets, the better.
Two things jump out in terms of the box score tonight. First, Jared Wilson-Frame continues to shoot way too much. He was 3-16 from the field tonight and that included taking 11 three-pointers for some unknown reason. Kevin Stallings sat him down the stretch and that’s not the first time that’s happened this year. He’s really going to have to play within the game and realize that he doesn’t have to try to do everything himself. Wilson-Frame did pull down a team-high nine rebounds, so it’s not like he didn’t contribute at all. But he just shoots way too often at times and when you’re missing so much, that’s not helping the team.
The other anomaly was seeing Marcus Carr get only three shots, despite playing a team-high 34 minutes. I didn’t think he took many tonight but I was really surprised to see it was so few. That can’t happen. Carr is arguably Pitt’s most talented player and the team has to find a way to get him shots. He had six assists but also seven turnovers so it’s also his job to make sure he’s not giving away possessions. Still, he’s the biggest offensive weapon they have without Ryan Luther in the game and he has to be a bigger focal point of the offense.
Despite Towson being a little overrated, this was still a big win for Pitt. It ends the non-conference schedule on a high note and the team can go into a long break having played reasonably well so far at 8-5. Losing this one would have hurt and stopped the momentum they are starting to build. That’s obviously not a great record given the competition but considering how little was expected of this team and how poorly they started the year at 1-4, you’ve got to be happy with how they’ve closed things out here, winning seven out of their last eight games.
Next up for Pitt is a big home game against No. 6 Miami on December 30.