Pitt lost its second straight game tonight, falling to Duke 77-69. The Panthers let a 43-32 halftime lead slip away. Jamarius Burton led the Panthers with 16 points and 5 assists while Kyle Filipowski had 28 points and 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
After trading baskets in the early going, Pitt went on a 13-2 run to take a 26-14 lead with 9:35 to go in the first half. Burton had a three point play, then hit another layup, then found Sibande and Hinson for open threes, then hit another jumper. Duke closed the gap with a barrage of threes, but Pitt responded and went into the break up by 11.
Burton hit a jumper on Pitt’s first possession of the second half. It would be twelve minutes before anyone but Nelly Cummings scored at all, and fifteen minutes before anybody but Cummings made a field goal. Cummings to his credit hit 4-6 shots in the second half. Duke went on a 15-0 run to take a 59-52 lead and Pitt never recovered.
A few thoughts:
- Pitt got out-rebounded 51-28. That and free throws (Duke 23-27, Pitt 13-17) made a huge difference. Pitt just had no answer for Duke’s height and they could not box out at all. Duke either had Pitt completely sealed off underneath or if Pitt had position, Duke chased down the long rebounds.
- During Duke’s big run, Pitt committed a sequence of increasingly stupid fouls. Guillermo Diaz-Graham got beat down the floor by Filipowski and made a weak block attempt that turned into a 3-point play. Then a few possessions later, Cummings tried to block Proctor from behind and gave Duke another three point play. And finally Burton was fouled on a drive, but his elbow caught a Duke player in the face. Duke got free throws (they made 1-2) and the ball (they scored again on that possession). The Burton play was an unlucky break, but it happens. The call could have gone either way. Giving weak fouls from behind that turn into easy and ones is more frustrating.
- Pitt only had nine assists on the game and six of them were Burton’s. Burton controlled the first half, but Duke switched their bigs onto him in the second half and he couldn’t get free. Filipowski’s length on the perimeter in those situations was particularly troubling. Pitt had their best success when Duke’s bigs were Ryan Young and Lively. Burton had an easier time getting into the lane with those two on the floor. Side note, Young at 6’10” is listed as a guard on sports-reference, which is just hilarious.
- Pitt, as most teams would be, is much more effective when they are able to step into three point attempts. If they are moving left to right off the dribble, it is a problem.
- Hinson was 1-6 in the second half and missed the front end of a one and one as well. It was not a good game.
- While Cummings made some shots, his passing was non-existent. This is the second time this season he finished with 0 assists (VCU).
- Moving forward, I’d like to see Pitt get more paint touches. Federiko seems capable, but they just couldn’t get him the ball after he screened for the guards. He’s not the strongest big out there, but I feel like a couple lobs a game couldn’t hurt.
- Pitt also has to stop shooting threes off the dribble. They are not good at it. Drive and kick is the way.
- Hinson needs to stop settling for threes and use his body down low more.
- When Burton (or Cummings) gets into the lane, his teammates have to give him more options for passes if his defender doesn’t leave his feet. UNC kept failing at this and Burton ate them alive. Duke realized that most of their defenders could bother him without leaving their feet. The player that’s on the same side as the ball when the drive starts should take off towards the basket, otherwise they are completely useless being 15 feet directly behind the ball. Guys on the other side can stay because the driver can see them.
Anyway, Pitt plays at Georgia Tech at 3 pm on Saturday. The next four games are against the weaker teams of the ACC, and if Pitt wants to keep its tournament hopes alive, it needs to win all four.