Tag: Lamar Patterson


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.

What should we make of No. 25 Pitt?

Jaye Crockett, Lamar Patterson

I’ve figured it out.

I have the answer.

I know who this Pitt team is.

They’re the guy who uses a photoshopped picture of himself from 15 years ago on his Match.com profile, over-exaggerating life accomplishments and his salary to make himself appear more attractive to potential dates.

The Panthers entered the weekend as the No. 13 team on KenPom, the No. 23 team in the RPI and the No. 25 team in the AP poll. They then proceeded to scor 62 points in a double-overtime win over Virginia Tech at home, which came days after they scored 59 points in an overtime win against Miami. That came on the heels of a two-game losing streak where the Panthers fell at home to Duke and Virginia.

Their efficiency profile makes the Panthers look like a top 25 team, but when you see this team in person, it’s hard to take that assertion seriously. On Saturday, Lamar Patterson finished with five points on 1-for-9 shooting, four turnovers and four airballs as he dealt with a thumb injury that was clearly affecting his ability to shoot as much as it disrupted his confidence. As a result, the Panther’s offense looked downright atrocious at times, and the fact that they gave up 17 offensive rebounds to the Hokies didn’t help, either.

It’s easy to blame the injury for that, and it would be wrong to say that it played no role. But this wasn’t the first time Pitt’s offensive struggled, and Patterson was awesome against Miami, when the Hurricanes took them to overtime.

In fact, when you looked at the Panthers’ body of work, it’s more surprising that they were able to climb as high in the polls as they did than anything. Pitt’s best win this season came against a Stanford team that is still very much on the NCAA tournament bubble, which means that if the season ended today, there is no guarantee that Jamie Dixon’s club would own a win over a team destined for the Big Dance.

Next week, Pitt plays Syracuse at home and at UNC. We’re at a point where an 0-2 week from the Panthers could legitimately put Pitt into the NIT even if they finish the season with six losses.

Think about that.

“But their profile looked so good on KenPom!”

Pitt efficiency-catfished all of us.

No. 18 Pitt loses to No. 17 Duke, will enter February without a quality win

Duke v Pittsburgh

Pitt had a chance to notch themselves their first noteworthy victory of the season as they hosted No. 17 Duke on Monday evening.

Instead, the No. 18 Panthers were run off the floor in the second half, losing 80-65 in a game where Quinn Cook, Duke’s starting point guard, was slowed with an ankle injury. Lamar Patterson, who had entered the game looking like he deserved to be in the conversation for the National Player of the Year award, finished with 14 points, many of which came when the outcome was all-but decided, on 4-for-14 shooting and had just a single assist to go along with five turnovers. He was completely shutdown by Duke’s Rodney Hood.

Losing to a streaking Duke team, one that has now won their last five games by an average of just under 20 points, is hardly a “bad loss”. But it’s not a promising one, either. When the Panthers lost at Syracuse earlier this month, they stormed back on the road, taking a late lead before Tyler Ennis did Tyler Ennis things in the final two minutes.

There was hope after that loss. Pitt looked like they deserved to be in the conversation for best team in the ACC. That’s what happens when you lose in the final minutes on the road against the undisputed ACC favorite.

But this?

There is no way to spin this loss as a positive.

The Panthers were simply outclassed on Monday night, and while 40 minute’s worth of poor basketball is a tough way to judge the true ability of a team, the bottom-line is the eye-test is all we have when it comes to judging Pitt. They have not beaten anyone this season. Their best win right now? Pick one: Stanford, Clemson, at N.C. State, at Maryland. None of those teams are heading to the NCAA tournament this season barring a major late-season turnaround.

We went over this on Saturday. Barring a collapse, the Panthers are likely headed to the NCAA tournament. But they only have three games left against top 50 RPI opponents, four if you include North Carolina, who is currently 51st. UNC is the only one of those four games that is on the road.

Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that they lose at home to Syracuse but win out the rest of their league games and get beat by Duke in the ACC tournament. Pitt would have a record somewhere in the neighborhood of 28-5 with an NCAA tournament resume that is befitting of a mid-major conference champion.

That’s a problem.

Pitt is going to enter February without a single win over an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

They get Virginia on Sunday. Will that be the day they finally breakthrough?