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Pittsburgh’s margin for error shrinks with third straight loss

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Since shooting 51% from the field in an 83-79 win at Maryland on January 25 Pittsburgh has struggled offensively, shooting no better than 41% in any of the seven games that followed. Game number seven in that dubious streak came on Sunday night, with the Panthers shooting 37% in a 71-66 home loss to Florida State.

Lamar Patterson (eight rebounds and five assists) scored 21 points but he needed 21 shots to do so, making eight of those attempts. Much has been made of Patterson’s shooting struggles and that’s understandable as he is Pittsburgh’s most versatile offensive option. But the fact of the matter is that the senior wing wasn’t the only Panther having issues against a Florida State team that has the size and athleticism needed to perform well defensively.

Talib Zanna, the team’s second-leading scorer with an average of 12.2 points per game, scored just seven points on 1-for-4 shooting against Florida State’s deep and athletic front court. Zanna did grab 14 rebounds, but after shooting 2-for-11 in Pitt’s loss at North Carolina last weekend he needed to bounce back and it didn’t happen. In Patterson, Zanna and Cameron Wright (12 points) the Panthers have three players who are asked to carry much of the offensive load on a nightly basis, and when any of those three struggle Pittsburgh will have issues scoring.

Also of note on Sunday night was Florida State outscoring Pittsburgh 27-18 from the foul line, with the Seminoles’ free throw rate (67.4) well above the rate allowed by the Panthers in ACC play (39.9). With the Panthers not being an explosive offensive team points from the foul line and points off of turnovers (14-10 FSU edge) can be the difference between winning and losing close games.

Does Sunday’s loss mean that the Panthers are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament? No. The selection committee has to take 68 teams, and it’s difficult to think that there are 36 at-large teams better than the Panthers regardless of their non-conference resume. And it should be noted that Pitt’s best non-conference win gained some value on Saturday as Stanford knocked off No. 23 UCLA.

But Sunday’s defeat does mean that with four games remaining before the ACC tournament the Panthers’ margin for error shrinks ever so slightly. Three of those four games (Boston College, Notre Dame and Clemson) are on the road, with N.C. State visiting Pittsburgh on March 3.

Take care of business in those games and Jamie Dixon’s team will be fine. But a couple missteps could leave the Panthers with work to do going into the ACC tournament.

Georgetown center Bradley Hayes out indefinitely with broken hand

Georgetown center Bradley Hayes (42) is greeted by John Thompson Jr., right, father of Georgetown head coach John Thompson III, after an NCAA college basketball game against Syracuse, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Washington. Georgetown won 79-72. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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Georgetown announced on Saturday that senior center Bradley Hayes will be out indefinitely after breaking his left hand in practice on Thursday.

“It is a blow to our team, but I’m very disappointed for Bradley because of the heard work he has put in over the last four years to put himself in a position to have a good senior year,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said in a release. “He had successful surgery today and we expect him to fully recover but we’re not sure when he’ll return.”

The 7-foot-0 native of Jacksonville was putting together a very solid senior season before the injury. Hayes averaged 21.4 minutes per contest in which he put up 8.5 points and grabbed 6.6 rebounds per game. After playing sparringly during his first three seasons at Georgetown, Hayes has become a key interior piece for the Hoyas this season.

Without Hayes in the lineup, freshman Jessie Govan will get more minutes and have a chance to be the go-to post player in the Georgetown rotation.

BUBBLE BANTER: A loaded Saturday slate could determine a few bids

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin gestures from the bench during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.  (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
(AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
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This post will be updated throughout the day. Here is the full schedule of bubble games.

No. 22 Kentucky at South Carolina (KenPom: 43, RPI: 21), 12:00 p.m.
Georgetown (KenPom: 60, RPI: 78) at No. 20 Providence, 12:00 p.m.
Northern Iowa at No. 25 Wichita State (KenPom: 11, RPI: 43), 12:00 p.m.
No. 15 Texas A&M at LSU (KenPom: 59, RPI: 74), 1:00 p.m.
Kansas State (KenPom: 49, RPI: 52) at Oklahoma State, 1:00 p.m.
No. 18 Purdue at Michigan (KenPom: 48, RPI: 60), 2:00 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Clemson (KenPom: 58, RPI: 88), 2:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 77, RPI: 61) at Colorado (KenPom: 61, RPI: 30), 2:00 p.m.
No. 5 Xavier at Butler (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 2:30 p.m.
East Carolina at Cincinnati (KenPom: 30, RPI: 63), 4:00 p.m.
George Washington (KenPom: 88, RPI: 44) at St. Bonaventure, 4:00 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon at Stanford (KenPom: 122, RPI: 82), 4:00 p.m.
Alabama (KenPom: 84, RPI: 38) at Florida (KenPom: 28, RPI: 24), 5:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt (KenPom: 34, RPI: 59) at Auburn, 6:00 p.m.
Saint Louis at VCU (KenPom: 41, RPI: 53), 6:00 p.m.
Wisconsin (KenPom: 47, RPI: 54) at No. 2 Maryland, 6:30 p.m.
Oregon State (KenPom: 73, RPI: 31) at Cal (KenPom: 33, RPI: 29), 6:30 p.m.
Tulsa (KenPom: 50, RPI: 48) at UConn (KenPom: 22, RPI: 46), 8:00 p.m.
Texas Tech (KenPom: 57, RPI: 41) at No. 21 Baylor, 8:00 p.m.
Wright State at Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 49), 8:00 p.m.
Creighton (KenPom: 42, RPI: 84) at Marquette (KenPom: 104, RPI: 95), 8:00 p.m.
La Salle at Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 37, RPI: 28), 8:00 p.m.
Gonzaga (KenPom: 31, RPI: 64) at No. 16 SMU, 10:00 p.m.
LMU at Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 39, RPI: 72), 11:00 p.m.