Basketball’s a weird sport sometimes. You can look at a box score, and then look at the final score and sometimes the two don’t make sense together. If I told you Pitt only committed three turnovers the entire game and made 17-20 free throws (while GT didn’t make a single one), how many points do you think they won by? Initially, you’d think at least 15, probably 20. But then you stop to think, wait a minute, they only shot three free throws? Oh no, how many threes did they make? Twelve? Uh oh. And that’s pretty much how Pitt played fairly well, but still managed to never put the game on ice.
Nike Sibande scored a season-high 21 points, and Jamarius Burton added 19 as Pitt defeated Georgia Tech 71-60 to snap a two-game losing streak. The Panthers are now 5-2 and tied for 2nd in the ACC with 4 other teams (Miami, Virginia, Wake Forest and Syracuse). I figure for this recap I’ll just mention a few things I noticed about each player
Nelly Cummings - Cummings got into some foul trouble in the first half, only playing seven minutes before the break. In the second he hit a pull up and a three on two consecutive possessions to push Pitt’s lead to double digits before the under 16 timeout. He shot 5-6 in the second half (5-7 for game) and finished with 11 points.
Blake Hinson - Hinson got the Panthers off to a good start in the second half by reading a cut and stepping in front of the pass on Tech’s first possession and scoring at the other end. He stole another pass off an inbound underneath Pitt’s basket, and tried to find Burton on the fast break. Unfortunately, he took maybe one extra dribble before letting the pass go and it was deflected. It’s hard to tell for sure from the angle but a bounce pass might’ve given JB a clear path there. Pitt did recover possession but they failed to score. Although he didn’t have a good shooting day (4-14), I was by Hinson trying a few different things. He had some post ups and tried to get the ball to Fede in good position in the paint as well. I’d like to see more of that.
Nike Sibande - Heckuva game from Nike. He had fourteen first half points including three three-pointers and a three point play. Georgia Tech had fourteen offensive rebounds in this game, but Sibande did his part to shut that aspect of the Tech attack in the second half, grabbing all six of his rebounds (all defensive) in the second frame. With Pitt only up five in the final three minutes, he came up with the play of the game. He picked up a loose ball underneath after some good defense oo the baseline by Fede, went coast to coast, hit them with a euro step, and got the circus shot to fall with a foul. He hit the and one and Tech never threatened again. The camera panned to Elliott after Sibande hit the shot and dude was hyped. He was the first person off the bench to congratulate him. It’s really a joy to see interactions like that with this Pitt team. Everybody on this team wants to win so badly, and none of them care who leads the way.
Greg Elliott - Speaking of Elliott, he didn’t have his shot today (1-7), and didn’t play much in the second half, but he did grab five big rebounds on a day when Tech was active on the boards.
Guillermo Diaz-Graham - He only played five minutes and had one rebound, but there is one sequence that I want to draw attention to. Georgia Tech had the ball with under 13 minutes to go in the 2nd half. They fed it to his man in the high post, who quickly executed a give and go. Diaz-Graham switched onto the guard, stayed with him and trapped him on the baseline. He kicked it back out to a teammate who went down the middle. Diaz-Graham contested the shot and forced a pump fake and scoop instead, which missed. Then he got a hand up on his man’s follow dunk attempt to alter that shot. But sadly, the ball eventually made it out to the corner and the Yellow Jackets knocked down a three. It honestly might’ve been the most impressive defensive sequence I’ve seen all season. Incredible instincts.
Nate Santos - Santos did not attempt a shot in his 11 minutes but he did have a sick block in the first half.
Federiko Federiko - Fede continued to play strong defense with three blocks and two steals. HIs teammates seemed open to getting him some post-ups. One thing I’ve noticed with him is that when he rolls to the basket, he isn’t usually ready to receive the pass. Sometimes someone like Burton will go with him and dump it off, but other times he’s not looking. As many people have said on twitter, and I agree with them, it takes time to develop a post game. He’s strong defensively right now, and I’m looking forward to his continued progression on the offensive side.
Jamarius Burton - JB is JB. He scores and plays a strong overall game. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Pitt heads to Louisville on Wednesday for their next game to face the 2-16 Cardinals. I hope they win by 50. Let us know what you thought of Pitt’s performance in the comments.
Hail to Pitt.