On Wednesday night, Pitt suffered a lopsided 72-52 defeat at the hands of a Clemson team that entered the matchup with an 11-12 record. The loss came on the Panthers’ home court at the Petersen Events Center, and the 20-point deficit was the team’s largest margin of defeat in the 2019-20 season to date.
The game began to spiral out of control for the Panthers in the first half, as the team’s offensive catalysts Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens were stifled by the Tigers’ zone defense and went a combined 1-for-8 from the field in the first 20 minutes, during which the team fell behind 32-24.
Clemson’s lead swelled to 16 points, as the Tigers scored eight unanswered points to start the second frame, and by the final buzzer, Johnson had gone 0-for-9 from the field and McGowens had shot 2-for-11. They scored eight and seven points, respectively, marking their lowest point totals in the four games the Panthers have played in February.
The lulls in production from Johnson and McGowens were not the only issues hindering Pitt on Wednesday, as Terrell Brown and Eric Hamilton offered little assistance in terms of inside scoring and the team as a whole failed to adequately defend Clemson’s three-point attempts, resulting in the Tigers going 13-for-22 from beyond the arc as a team.
After the game, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel commented on his team’s performance, what went wrong and what comes next.
”I’m disappointed in our performance,” Capel said in his post-game press conference. “We were just bad across the board. Energy, communication, and execution on both sides, a really disappointing performance by us.”
”At some point, we have to figure it out,” the coach continued. “At some point, we have to figure out the things that are required to be really good. That’s the goal for us, to be really good — not for an individual to be really good, not for a guy to get numbers or anything. It’s for us to be really good, consistently. You ask about a lesson learned. It’s the middle of February. We should have learned from Nicholls State in November, the second game. At some point, guys have to listen. They have to get over themselves.”
Pitt’s loss to Clemson was the latest chapter in an erratic season for the young team. As Capel alluded to, the Panthers have found success in small doses, with early-season wins over Florida State and Rutgers, but they have struggled to build on momentum after wins and learn from missteps. As a result, the team has performed unevenly in ACC play, logging wins over Boston College and North Carolina but falling to beatable Clemson, Miami and Wake Forest teams.
The Panthers' next matchup is with another fallible team in the middle of the pack in the ACC, as they will travel to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. ACC road games have been a challenge for Pitt this season, as the team has gone 2-5 away from the Pete. Pitt will try to improve on that record Saturday night.