Pittsburgh Basketball: Panthers Have Momentum Heading Into ACC Tournament

By Gregory Philson
Pittsburgh Panthers
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Panthers had their backs against the wall down by as much as 10 points in the second half to the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday.

Had the Panthers curled up, gave up and lost to the Tigers, questions would have immediately came up about their NCAA tournament chances.

However, coach Jamie Dixon‘s team came back, pulled away in overtime and got the much-needed victory to wrap up the regular season on a high note. Now, with what seems like their footprint firmly planted in the tournament, the Panthers head into the ACC tournament looking to build on the win over the Tigers and hoping to find something that could make them contenders.

Pittsburgh had an interesting season. The Panthers started hot before being held down by the Cincinnati Bearcats. ACC play was very much up and down, but the Panthers finished with a respectable 11-7 conference record.

There are still problems with an offense that can just as easily go on scoring runs as it can go into a long scoring drought. Lamar Patterson is definitely a player who can take over games like he did in scoring 30 points against Clemson, but is sometimes too reluctant to do so. Also, when Patterson tries to do more, he sometimes does too much. He forces shots because there is not a definitive second scorer. Talib Zanna is a solid, but passive post player and will need to be more consistent in the postseason. As a team, the Panthers will hold the ball too long and fall out of an offensive flow.

Defensively, Pitt can be as annoying as a swarm of bees when going against schools that run team-based offenses, but the Panthers have also shown they can be burned by potent scorers like North Carolina State‘s T.J. Warren.

The Panthers probably do not have to do much in the ACC tournament, but if they want to head into the Big Dance as a threat, they will need to build off the momentum gained Saturday.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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