Lamar Patterson scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and added eight boards, six assists and two steals as Pitt went into Raleigh and knocked off N.C. State 74-62.
It was an impressive way for the Panthers to kick off their ACC tenure, but the score doesn’t tell you the full extent of the domination shown by Jamie Dixon’s team. N.C. State was up 17-2 before the Panthers woke up. Over the final 35 minutes of the game, the Panthers outscored the Wolfpack 72-45.
That’s a nice road win to start the year, but the news gets better for Pitt.
Remember back in the Jimmy V Classic when we all bemoaned the fact that the Panthers, who had played a weak non-conference schedule to date, had lost to Cincinnati? That the lasting memory that we would have of this team was losing the one time they were actually challenged outside of the league?
Well, that loss doesn’t look quite as bad now. Cincinnati went into Memphis and pasted the No. 18 Tigers, 69-53, in their American opener.
So what, if anything, does this tell us about Pitt?
Well, not all that much. N.C. State is probably not a tournament team this season. There is some talent on that roster — their freshman class of Cat Barber, Kyle Washington and BeeJay Anya is promising — but this team is still a year or two away from really competing. The Panthers probably should win games in Raleigh.
But keep in mind: the ACC is wide open this year. Syracuse has been the most impressive in the conference, but they are by no means unbeatable. UNC and Duke have talent but haven’t exactly been consistent. Beyond that, there are probably six teams that can finish in fourth place in the league, and the Panthers are very much a part of that group.
We can crack plenty of jokes about their schedule because they deserve it, but for my money, Pitt is still one of the top 25 teams in the country.