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[Pittsburgh,Pa] Fresh off their win vs. Georgia Tech, the Pitt Panthers basketball team figured they were back in the right direction and hoped to bring their winning streak to 2 with a win over the Clemson Tigers. After all, Pitt has the better record, right? They were only shooting 48% in the past several games. Easy win, right?
Unfortunately, records don’t matter at game time as anything can happen, and Clemson proved that theory was true as they showed up at the Petersen Events Center and left with a 72-52 win.
“First and foremost, congrats to Clemson.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel “We played a team that was really hungry, they lost three in a row, been dealing with some injuries and illnesses, and they were back as a whole tonight and really played with a sense of urgency and they played terrific.”
The key to the Tigers win was their game-high 13 three-pointers, which included an incredible 7 of 9 in the second half (78%) for the game, they shot 59.1% from 3-point range. Unfortunately, Pitt’s defense couldn’t stop them, and it was proven as several Tigers got good looks which resulted in those shots.
“It was a combination of a lot of different things.” Said Capel on Clemson’s success with the three-pointer “It was some breakdowns defensively, allowing middle penetration, which forces help. They were making shots there when we tried to go zone. We tried to talk about keeping the ball out the middle, they were still able to get it there which collapses the zone and gives it out to shooters.”
Four of those 3-ponters came from Al-Amir Dawes who finished with 18 points. Tevin Mack added 3 three-pointers and finished with 16 points and Aamir Simms finished with 12 for the Tigers who improved to 12-12 (6-8 ACC). Meanwhile, the Panthers fell to 15-10 (6-8 ACC)
The Panthers were the ones who made the early impression as they opened with a 5-0 lead and it seemed like Clemson couldn’t find the basket. But 5 minutes later, it was the Tigers who took control of the game. Pitt took a 12-11 lead, but after regained the lead, the Panthers would trail the rest of the game.
The Panthers had their struggles on offense as well as they shot only 28.3 % (14-48) which included 28% (7-25) in the second half. From 3-point range they also had their struggles as they shot 28.6% (4-14) and 22% in the second half (22%) Not the way you want to play against a team that pulled off upsets against both Duke and Syracuse.
Justin Champagnie couldn’t do a repeat 30-point performance but led Pitt with 11 points and Au’Diese Toney chipped in 10 but the Panthers couldn’t seem to figure out Clemson’s zone defense. Ryan Murphy returned, but unfortunately didn’t have much of an impact as he finished with 0 points.
This loss is a tough pill for Pitt to swallow, but they must learn from it and move on as Virginia Tech awaits them on Saturday in Blacksburg. “I’m disappointed in our performance.” Said Capel. “We were just bad across the board; Energy, communication, and execution on both sides, a really disappointing performance by us. We have got to learn from it, move on to the next play, and get ready for the next one.”
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