Panthers a mess in 71-62 bow to Clemson
By: Ryan Bertonaschi
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and, knee-deep in their ACC schedule, the Pitt Panthers are all sorts of “desperate.”
Unsure of how to coach his Panthers into contention after they shot poorly and thus sustained an early deficit, Jamie Dixon often threw a 2-3 zone and a full-court press at the Clemson Tigers (9-6, 1-2 ACC), who cruised to a 71-62 win over Pitt (11-5, 1-2 ACC) before 12,508 fans at the Petersen Events Center Saturday afternoon.
Dixon was forced to do so probably because Pitt got beat at its own game.
The Panthers, who turned 36 percent of their own shots into team rebounds prior to tip (26th in Division I), were lapped on the offensive glass. They collected just six offensive rebounds, opposed to Clemson’s 14.
“We have to give Clemson credit,” Pitt guard Cameron Wright said. Wright led the Panthers in scoring with 18 points. “They came in here and kicked our tails on the glass. It’s very obvious that when we lose the rebounding numbers, we normally lose the game. It’s very difficult when that happens.”
Not only did the Panthers lose the rebounding margin, but they set some historic lows. They pulled in 22 rebounds, which ties for the worse rebounding total in the Jamie Dixon era. Pitt’s 22 rebounds were also the lowest ever by Pitt at the Petersen Events Center.
In the second half, Clemson threw a 2-3 zone at Pitt to “slow the game down,” as Clemson head coach Brad Brownell put it after the game.
Dixon said this gave Pitt problems on offense, but it also confused his players when their shots went up, because they were not in position to collect the ball once it clanged off the rim.
“We anticipated seeing the zone,” Dixon said. “We prepared for it… Certainly, we like to get the offensive rebounding against the zone, and we didn’t do that.”
“We knew they would sag, and they did a really good job of keeping us in front…” Dixon added. “It was really a compact zone, and I don’t know that we did a good job of penetrating against it. There were times in the second half when we penetrated and got some good shots but it wasn’t enough for a full 40 minutes obviously.”
The Panthers were outrebounded by 17 – 39 to 22 – a margin which is the worst in the Jamie Dixon era. They shot just 39 percent from the floor collectively.
“The numbers certainly don’t lie,” Dixon added.
As the final buzzer sounded, the words “so embarrassing” were overheard from outside the Oakland Zoo – Pitt’s student section.
The Panthers return to action Wednesday at the Petersen Events Center to face an underwhelming Florida State team at 9 p.m.