The Pittsburgh Panthers (8-7, 0-2 ACC) weren’t able to hang in against the Louisville Cardinals (11-3, 1-0 ACC) as they lost 77-55 in Louisville.
Parker Stewart led Pittsburgh with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists. Quentin Snider had 19 points, three rebounds and four assists to lead Louisville.
For the first time in program history, the Panthers started five freshmen.
“We’re searching for something that works,” head coach Kevin Stallings said following the game.
The decision looked good for the Panthers as they were only down 10-9 at the first media timeout. Before they could blink, Louisville had gone on a 17-0 run and deflated any chances the Panthers had in very quick fashion. Pitt went 8:28 without a bucket.
They were down at half 41-23.
They came out big in the first four minutes of the second half as they cut the lead to 11 and had the ball with a chance to make it a single digit game. Things began going downhill quickly.
Kene Chukwuka fouled out in 17 minutes of playing time and left the Panthers even more short handed than they already were. They never found any bit of chemistry and eventually lost big to a team who has had their own offensive struggles. Pitt shot 35 percent from the field.
Stallings had a pretty blunt assessment of the Panthers’ play in the game.
“We didn’t play well enough on either end,” Stallings said. “Their length was certainly problematic for us.”
One: Kevin Stallings’ frustration is mounting. It’s tough to run out a ton of freshmen on a game-by-game basis and it’s even harder in the ACC, the nation’s premier basketball conference. It’s even tougher when opposing fans are heckling you. Stallings turned around mid-game and said “at least we didn’t pay our kids 100K” to fans who had been heckling him and his players.
He was asked about it post-game and wouldn’t elaborate on what was said to provoke him but did say he wasn’t going to allow anyone to “talk crap” about his players. Regardless of your feelings towards Stallings, he genuinely cares about his players and he showed that with that comment. Not that he did the right thing by engaging with fans.
Two: Jared Wilson-Frame is in a bit of a lull right now. Wilson-Frame was one of the team’s better players in the early portion of the schedule but has really struggled as of late. Tuesday, he shot 2/13 from the field including 0/9 from beyond the arc.
Those are numbers that won’t get the job done and thus why he was removed from the starting lineup. He was a large contributor to Pitt’s 35 percent dud from the field and until his shooting problems are fixed, things aren’t going to get any better for the team as a whole.
Three: Stallings needs to turn his recruiting focus to a big man. The Panthers have a solid guard in Marcus Carr who can facilitate the ball. A guy like Shamiel Stevenson who is good down low but not someone who can command the boards. The injury to Ryan Luther is a prelude to life without him after this season.
Luther is averaging a double-double and without him, Pitt is getting beat badly on the boards. Terrell Brown and Peace Ilegomah have been bad at controlling the boards and grabbing rebounds on both sides of the ball. Stallings needs to look for the next Steven Adams-like presence down low to grab rebounds.