The Pittsburgh Panthers (8-15, 0-10 ACC) had the lead in the game for a very short time. The Miami Hurricanes (16-5, 5-4 ACC) regained it, never looking back. The Panthers dropped their tenth straight game, tying their second longest losing streak in the University’s history, by a score of 69-57.
It went much like the first meeting. The Panthers went down big but kept fighting back. This time, they actually owned a one-point lead that quickly dissipated on the next possession and it kept growing from there. The Panthers lost by 11 this time instead of 14. They’re gradually improving.
“I continue to admire my players,” Panthers head coach Kevin Stallings said as their trying season continues. “Our team is getting better. We don’t have wins to show for it, and I feel horribly for my guys for that because they’ve been as coachable as any group I’ve ever had. Hopefully, we keep getting better and we’ll knock one off.”
If the Panthers fall to North Carolina this weekend, they will have lost their 11th straight game, the longest streak in program history.
On the bright side, Stallings’ Panthers got another solid game from Jared Wilson-Frame as he put up 17 points. Lonnie Walker IV began heating up in the second half of the game and finished with 16.
Marcus Carr and Shamiel Stevenson both played pretty good games for the Panthers, too. Parker Stewart was a pitiful 3/11 from 3-point land and that wasn’t the best number for the Panthers.
The Hurricanes played in their first game without their leader, Bruce Brown Jr., getting a taste of what Pitt has lost in Ryan Luther, except the Hurricanes have a bit more talent.
“He’s my favorite player that’s not on my team,” Stallings said following the game.
With Walker IV taking over like he did and the Panthers not being able to hold their short-lived lead, it was a tough game for them.
- Another game where length, or lack thereof, under the basket hurt Pitt. Pitt was out-rebounded 39-24 in the game, but they also allowed 13 offensive rebounds and only grabbed 4 themselves. That won’t win many games. The Panthers still just don’t have that presence underneath to outduel the elite of the ACC. When your team allows almost 10 more offensive rebounds than they grab, you aren’t going to win much. Peace Ilegomah, Khameron Davis and Terrell Brown just don’t get it done well enough on the boards, and this is where missing Luther continues to plague them.
- Close games never seem to end well for the Panthers. We’ve seen it time and time again all season. The Panthers have gotten a few games close in conference play and couldn’t capitalize. The NC State game sticks out as the Panthers led the majority of that game and couldn’t pull it off. Wednesday, as the Panthers began reeling in the Hurricanes, they couldn’t get that timely defensive play and then score on the other end. They’re just a really streaky team. They get hot enough to reel teams in but their composure begins to shake and they can’t hold it. But, one must remember, it’s still a very young team and growing pains are surely plaguing Pitt this season.
- Pitt was no match for Lonnie Walker IV. Pitt’s loss of Luther was one thing. Miami losing Brown and having a freshman stud like Walker IV to take over the team is another. Walker IV didn’t have the hottest first half but the second half really belonged to him. As Pitt began inching closer, Walker IV had “tunnel vision” as he referred to it after the game. He knew he had to take over and use his talents to his advantage as Pitt just doesn’t have anyone of the caliber to match him. This kid has some serious talent. While he likely won’t be a one-and-done type of guy, Miami has a player that puts them in really good hands.