An apathetic Pitt team got more than it bargained for Wednesday – far more.
Big favorites heading into the game, Pitt failed to take control until late in the second half. In the end, though, the Panthers walked away with a 67-55 win.
Games like these happen and Pitt fans shouldn’t take too much away from it. Pitt was playing a bad team at home in front of a crowd that struggled to get into the game. Getting a win, regardless of how the team looked, was the most important thing.
Pitt held a 13-point lead late in the first half, but South Florida refused to give up, and kept the game close until about ten minutes left in the game. Unfortunately for the Bulls, it was an all too familiar scene. Up only one, Pitt went on an 18-3 run. Those three points came over the next nine minutes as South Florida’s offense was virtually shut down for the last ten minutes of the game.
The Panthers looked really sluggish to me. The energy wasn’t there offensively or defensively until late in the second half when they made that big run.
Four players got into double figures including Talib Zanna, who hasn’t contributed much since his two big games at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. The Panthhers also dominated on the glass (35-17) and only gave up two offensive rebounds all night.
I’m a little torn on USF – looking at several of their close losses this season, they’ve not played all that poorly. They just haven’t been able to close out a lot of games. Ken over at SB Nation’s South Florida blog, Voodoo Five, disagreed in our Q&A earlier this week, dismissing the Bulls as a team that’s not very good.
With Ashton Gibbs expected back on Saturday, Pitt passed a major test. They didn’t look great all the time and the offense struggled a bit, but the Panthers proved they can find ways to win even when they’re not shooting well. Gibbs’ return will hopefully mean the team gets back on track shooting three-pointers. He draws a lot of attention when he’s on the court and that creates a lot of open looks for other players.
Pitt goes back on the road to face St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.