Pitt dropped a winnable game to a middling Miami team at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, on Sunday night after getting off to languid starts in both halves of the game and receiving little help from star point guard Xavier Johnson. The end result was a 66-58 scoreline in favor of the Hurricanes, and Panthers head coach Jeff Capel commented on the loss after the game.
“I thought we had an amazing opportunity, coming off of a big win, to go on the road and have an opportunity to get another one," Capel said. "And we didn’t have the maturity level necessary ... to move on to the next play. And until we learn that in our program, then we won’t become the consistently good program that we’re striving to become. And it’s unfortunate that we have to learn these lessons with poor performances and with losses, but we have to learn the lessons.”
”The way we started each half, it’s not good enough” Capel added. “It’s not worthy of winning. And the basketball gods don’t reward you for that.”
Miami outscored Pitt 16-0 in the first six minutes of the opening half, and during that span, Johnson had three turnovers to go with seven missed shots by the team as a whole. Johnson would end the scoring drought with two made free throws at the 13:48 mark, and that kicked off an 18-2 run in which Pitt tied the game. However, Miami then regrouped and finished the half with a 31-22 lead.
That pattern held in the second half, as the Hurricanes jumped out to a 46-26 lead by the 13:59 mark of the final frame. While Terrell Brown, Trey McGowens, Ryan Murphy and Au’Diese Toney all found ways to contribute late in the game, the Panthers got nothing from Johnson, who finished with as many turnovers as points, with four of each.
With the loss, Pitt fell to 11-5 on the season and 2-3 in conference. The team also gave up ground in the ACC standings to Miami, which now sits at 10-5 and 2-3 in ACC play. The road ahead only gets tougher as well, as Pitt will face No. 11 Louisville on Tuesday and end the month with trips to Syracuse and Durham.