After some frustrating first half play, Pitt rebounded to thoroughly dominate Alabama State in the second half this afternoon at the Petersen Events Center. Blake Hinson (18), Nike Sibande (17), John Hugley (10), and Nelly Cummings (10) scored in double figures for the Panthers.
Pitt jumped out to a 10-2 early lead behind threes from Jorge Diaz-Graham and Sibande. But Alabama State countered with a massive run of their own to go up 30-18 with about 5:45 left in in the half. At that point in the game, Pitt was settling way too much for threes (perhaps a product of missing Jamarius Burton today with a knee injury), and Alabama State was effective getting the ball into the high post and getting good looks. Thankfully for the Panthers, Hinson and Hugley took over and brought Pitt back to a 34-31 deficit at the break.
Alabama State scored at the 18 minute mark to go up 36-33. For the next fifteen minutes it was all Panthers. Pitt had perhaps their most impressive stretch of play all season. Six different Panthers hit threes in the second half. By the time the damage was done, Pitt led 64-39. The teams traded baskets the rest of the way and Sibande threw down a huge dunk near the end to put the exclamation point on the victory.
- Alabama State is not a good team, and Pitt desperately needed this for confidence. The first half wasn’t good, but I am happy with how they responded. They ended the game playing their best basketball.
- Jorge Diaz-Graham continues to provide a spark for this team. He nearly had his first career double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
- Hopefully this is the game that sets Sibande on the path to becoming the player he was pre injury. He attempted two dunks at the end of the game. He got fouled and made both on the first one and threw it down on the ensuing possession.
- I hope Pitt recognizes that their offense at the end of the first half directly contributed to the second half outburst. They went inside, got a few buckets and the confidence spread to the shooters after the break. Pitt still takes way too many threes. They happened to hit them in the second half today, but I don’t think that is something they should count on.
Pitt takes on Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday night in their next game.