Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Recent Results Show Panthers' Struggles against Bigger Teams

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Recent Results Show Panthers' Struggles against Bigger Teams

Article excerpt

Pitt's loss at a ranked Louisville team last week was easily explained away. Winning on the road in a power conference can be tough.

But the Panthers' blowout loss Tuesday at home to unranked N.C. State was a little tougher to explain, especially for a team with NCAA tournament aspirations.

"It's disappointing, and it's a bad loss for us, a home loss," coach Jamie Dixon said. "We can't have those. . We let them get their first win in conference play."

The Panthers now embark on what appears to be a brutal stretch. Pitt (15-3, 4-2 ACC) will play four of its next six games on the road, and its two home games in that stretch are against Virginia Tech, which is off to a 4-1 start in ACC play and has been the surprise of the league thus far, and No. 13 Virginia.

The common theme in all three of the Panthers' losses is their inability to score for stretches because they were manhandled in the paint by bigger, more physical and more athletic frontcourts.

Consider:

* Purdue beat the Panthers, 72-59, outrebounded them, 40-35, and got 24 points and 12 rebounds from center A.J. Hammons. Pitt had only 10 second-chance points.

* Louisville beat the Panthers, 59-41, and while the rebounding numbers were even, the Cardinals outscored them, 34-20, in the paint, and center Chinanu Onuaku scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

* And in Tuesday's 78-61 loss to N.C. State, the Wolfpack outrebounded the Panthers, 46-30. In the first half, when it built a 25-point lead, it held Pitt to only two offensive rebounds.

It's a disturbing trend, and one the Panthers know they need to figure out, as many of the teams they will play have big, physical frontcourts or size advantages.

Dixon said the Panthers fell into the trap of searching for shots Tuesday and forgot that winning and losing starts on the defensive end and on the glass. …

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