Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensive Breakdowns Still Evident

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensive Breakdowns Still Evident

Article excerpt

Pitt failed its first real test of the season when it lost to Purdue, 72-59, Tuesday night in a Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Petersen Events Center.

At least, that's the logical conclusion if success or failure is based solely on the outcome of the game. But Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said his team did some good things in the game."I thought we were better offensively and we got some layups and transition," he said. But, in a familiar refrain, he said the defensive effort, especially in the man-to-man, was a failure.

"The defense is a concern, the rebounding is a concern," Dixon said, admitting he might sound like a broken record. "At the end of the day, we can't be a team that relies on making shots because we didn't make them [against Purdue] and it caught up to us.

"I thought we played hard. We battled. We learned some things in the first half and got better to give us a lead in the second half. We certainly didn't do the things we wanted to do for 40 minutes on the defensive end."

Pitt had stretches of really good defense, mostly in its 2-3 zone, but had too many lapses early in the game while it was struggling to get its offense going. The Panthers fell behind, 20- 5, in the first eight minutes, making only 2 of 10 field goals - a Michael Young dunk and a Ryan Luther tip-in.

Dixon contends that if the Panthers had played better defense early on, they might have trailed by five or six points instead of 15. And after fighting back and making it a one-possession game - it was 52-50 with 8:15 to play - the offense went cold, missing five consecutive jump shots. And in that stretch, Purdue freshman Ryan Cline got three open looks behind the 3-point arc - all because of defensive breakdowns - and converted. That put the game out of reach.

"You can't give [Cline] the looks that he had, but the understanding, the sense of urgency is just not where it needs to be," Dixon said. …

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