For more than 3/4 of Pitt's game against Oakland, the Panthers floundered. They went into halftime with a surprising 14-point deficit and trailed by double digits for much of the game. Cutting the lead to nine with about eight minutes left, though, sparked a furious rally. Pitt continued chipping away at the lead and true freshman James Robinson played hero, making two clutch free throws to send the game into overtime. From there, the Panthers went on a 14-4 run, leading to their 72-62 win.
Several things went wrong for Pitt on Saturday, but the biggest was their poor shooting. The team made less than 40% of their shots until their late rally and only finished at a season-low 41%. Leading the way in futility were senior guard Tray Woodall and junior forward Lamar Patterson, who were a combined 3-22.
Speaking of Patterson, the J.J. Moore-Patterson topic has to be brought up again and if he continues to struggle, head coach Jamie Dixon should take a serious look at cutting his minutes. He struggled again while J.J. Moore was one of Pitt's best players on the night, coming off the bench for a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Dixon may prefer to keep Moore on the bench to provide offense, but Patterson played 34 minutes and was largely unproductive other than his seven rebounds.
But while Moore may have been the statistical leader of the night, it was Robinson who was perhaps the hero. The freshman hit two free throws at the end of regulation and finished with 14 points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals. Robinson is looking more and more like the real deal and without him, the Panthers probably don't win the game to remain undefeated.
Many Pitt fans likely weren't thrilled that the game was nearly lost, but a win is a win is a win. Not only that, but the game also forced the Panthers to fight back and deal with some adversity. And in the long run, that should benefit the team.