The Pittsburgh Panthers finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and only have themselves to blame. The Panthers lost to the Cincinnati Bearcats 44-43 Tuesday because nothing went right for coach Jamie Dixon‘s team.
The offense struggled mightily for the entire game. The Panthers went through two long scoring droughts in the first and second half. Cincinnati did not look right on offense either and only shot 38.5 percent from the field on the night. The Bearcats were held back by a great defensive effort by the Panthers. But just because they could not shoot did not mean they did not get good looks. The Bearcats had eight more offensive rebounds than Pitt and scored nine more second-chance points — including the game-winning bucket by Titus Rubles after he grabbed an offensive board. The way Pitt had been playing this season, not giving up offensive rebounds was one of the team’s strengths.
Pittsburgh also could not get out of its own way on offense. The Panthers shot 33 percent from the field and 18 percent from beyond the arc. These kind of numbers would obviously not work against most teams and especially ones built to play in drag-out games like Cincinnati. Only two players scored in double-figures for Pittsburgh and only Talib Zanna (3-of-5) made more than 50 percent of his shots. Pitt — which played well on offense this for most of the early season — may have to change a few offensive schemes in order to get back on track.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, the defense did play well enough to win. The Panthers held the Bearcats to only 23 percent from deep and Cincy’s leading scorer, Sean Kilpatrick, was kept down to only nine points. However, the Panthers were outrebounded 34-25.
Maybe this kind of game is what the Panthers needed and will be the sort of learning experience Dixon can use as a teaching tool. If it’s more of a sign of the future for Pittsburgh when ACC play opens up, the Panthers could have a rough first year in a new conference.
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