Head coach Kevin Stallings and the Pitt Panthers suffered a disheartening 69-57 road loss to Miami on Wednesday night, bringing their record to 0-10 in conference play. Again, Pitt kept it close, even taking a 44-43 lead with just under 11 minutes left. But again, the offense flatlined late in the game, this time providing the Hurricanes an opportunity to stave off an upset.
With the loss, the Panthers’ losing streak now extends back to Dec. 22. During that span, they got bullied in what looked like a winnable game against Georgia Tech and blinked when confronted with the possibility of upsetting NC State and Syracuse. There’s been talk of progress, as the latter two games were close, but the results have been unwaveringly negative.
After the loss on Wednesday night, Stallings was asked if the losing streak has been wearing on his players.
“I think if you want to win, it does. I’m sure it wears on them, but I guess it depends on your definition of ‘wears on them,’” Stallings said in response, per the university. “Do I think that we’re down about it? Yeah, but what it doesn’t do is keep them from working hard at practice, and it doesn’t stop them from playing as hard as they can during the game.”
“So even though they don’t like it, they’re handling it very professionally. That’s why I admire them so much. I don’t think that anyone can say that they didn’t try to go out there and compete, and that’s what the worst-case scenario of ‘wearing on them’ is: when it stops you from practicing and playing hard, and they haven’t done that,” he concluded.
This stretch of the season was always going to be difficult with a roster composed largely of freshmen, but even accounting for that, the team has underperformed under Stallings. Despite the coach’s reputation for solid offense, the Panthers came into Wednesday’s game ranked 339th out of 351 Division I teams in scoring offense, averaging 64.0 points per game.
Pitt’s standing in that category will soon take a hit, too, as its total in the loss to Miami brought its average down to 63.7. That makes the Panthers the lowest-scoring team in the Power Five, which could account for the fact that they’re now the last remaining Power Five team without a conference win. And now, the team is careening toward another disappointing record.
With the Panthers’ skid at 10 games after the Miami loss, the team is now one loss away from posting the longest losing streak in program history, according to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To make matters worse, their next opponent is No. 19 North Carolina, who they’ll face on the road Saturday. ESPN gives the Tar Heels a 98.4 percent chance of winning.