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Effortless: Miami steamrolls Pitt in ugly 72-46 loss

In a game the basketball team virtually had to have, the Panthers were not only beaten, but routed, by Miami, falling 72-46 at home on Saturday.

That score isn't a typo, nor is the name of the opponent. Pitt lost to a decidedly average Miami team. At home. By nearly 30 points.

I really hate writing overly long articles and, generally, it's understood that anything beyond 1,000 words that's not a longform article on an important topic is considered rambling. Yeah, so this is going to be a lot of rambling because I know full well I'm clearing that 1,000-word limit today.

Pitt was missing Ryan Luther, who not only didn't play, but will be out for a few weeks with a foot injury sustained in practice this week. They might as well have been missing Michael Young, too. Young played most of the game, but clearly was nowhere close to 100% with an ugly eye injury that forced him to wear a mask. He was completely out of his element and had no positive impact at all, missing all ten of his field goals and scoring only two points. It was clear he wasn't really healthy enough to play and likely the only reason he did was because the team was just so short-handed without Luther off the bench.

Before I get to some of the things that annoyed me about this game, I wanted to touch on Young. No, he didn't play well. And if you asked him, I'm sure he'd say he was horrible. He looked visibly frustrated a few times during the game. But I really commend him for stepping up to not only play but play as much as he did. He was out there as much as the other starters today and knew how badly the team was shorthanded. I'm about to get really critical of what Pitt did today but to do so without recognizing the effort Young gave in a really difficult circumstance would be wholly unfair. If anyone deserves a bit of a pass today, it's him.

Now, to the rest.

Recapping stats is sort of pointless here, so I'm not going to bother. Here's the box score for those that want it, though.

I had a really big problem with how Pitt played today but it goes far beyond the actual result of a loss. For Pitt to lose to a decent Miami team on the road playing shorthanded would perhaps be disappointing but not entirely unexpected. To lose in the manner they did today, given the circumstances, is nothing short of unacceptable.

For starters, the game was not even close. Losing by 26 points to anybody is ugly. Losing by that many to a decent but not unbeatable Miami team is absolutely horrendous. And considering the game was at home, the loss is even more of a problem.

Speaking of home, that deserves some attention, too. The crowd today was completely lifeless and at times, it felt much more like a neutral-court game than a home game. I'm not the guy that's going to get on the crowd for that, though. It's hard to cheer in such a lopsided game. But I think it's important from a context standpoint in that it shows that the fanbase, as a whole, is much more apathetic when it comes to Pitt basketball these days. Tickets are readily available and I continue to get several notifications via email about buying tickets, etc. If Pitt continues on a downward path this season, imagine how difficult selling tickets will be next year when the team loses four starters and will, for all intents and purposes, be starting over?

Just food for thought. Back to the game.

Part of the problem for me is that this was a very beatable opponent. Miami shot pretty well from the field but was even sloppier than Pitt with 18 turnovers. Even with the decent shooting night, a lot of teams having decent games would have been able to beat the Hurricanes with that many gaffes. And again, this is a team that won by almost 30 points. I have to imagine these are the games that winning coaches sort of despise on some level. After all, how do you tell your team that taking care of the ball is all that important if they can be so haphazard out there and still blow their opponent out?

The game was tailor-made for Pitt. As I said, Miami is hardly a terrible team. But you figure that playing with your backs against the wall at home in a game you need, you'd see a bit more in terms of effort - shorthanded or not. This was a nice rebound situation for Pitt and a win here could have gotten them back on track after a slow start to the conference season.

Finally, consider that this also a game Pitt desperately needed. As I wrote in the preview for the gamethread, with such a challenging schedule, this was really a game Pitt needed to win. There wasn't much reason to not show up in this game - particularly after giving the game against Notre Dame away, coming out wholly unprepared against Syracuse, and getting blown out of the water in the first 20 minutes against Louisville to come back and make it a respectable finish. Is it an absolute killer in terms of the NCAAs? Nope. But it also means finding another win on the schedule, which is full of very difficult opponents.

Those three games, too, sort of underscore the problem I have with the team. There simply has been zero real effort in the first halves against Syracuse, Louisville, and now, Miami. And while it was disappointing to be shorthanded today, as I said on Twitter earlier today, this is hardly a one-game thing. It's the third straight time that Pitt has not only started off slowly, but looked entirely overmatched in the first half of games. That's not acceptable by any measure.

I still struggle with how much of this goes to Kevin Stallings since this isn't his roster. But what I don't struggle with is the idea that the team needs to give more effort and stop making so many boneheaded plays. And regardless of the guys on the court, that's part of Stallings' job. What's the answer to get more effort and better starts for Pitt? Lineup tinkering? New practice tactics? Beats me. But again, that's the job of Stallings - to coach the guys he has and it's up to him to figure it out.

I was also unimpressed with the offensive gameplan, whatever it may have been. As I said in the comments section of a recent post, Pitt's offense has largely been dominant due to having the two top scoring guys in the ACC. What I wondered at the time of my comment was just how much credit Stallings can receive since I figured they would score just as much on a Jamie Dixon team that was so thin. The offensive game plan without one of those guys (as we saw today and earlier against Duquesne) is generally pretty bad. There just isn't enough quality movement.

Let me explain.

A lot of times in basketball terms, people will suggest things like there's not enough ball movement in an offense. Ball movement facilities everything and is particularly important when you don't have stars that can easily break down defenders on a 1-1 level and get into the paint and/or take over games. When you have that, ball movement is generally less of an issue. But it's not just ball movement that teams need. Pitt, for example, moves the ball around enough for my tastes. What they don't have is quality movement without the ball - guys cutting and breaking free of their defender, looking to get open and actually do something.

Back in middle school basketball when all of us were getting our first taste of what it was like to play basketball on an actual team, we were just kids following the coaches instruction running the silly 'Replace' offense. They say cut, you cut. Often kids would cut and not be looking at the ball at all. Pitt's offense isn't that bad, of course, but my point is that you can move around a lot and really not do much of anything to get open for a quality shot. It seemed like there was a lot of that going on today. And in one case when Artis did cut freely to the basket and was open by a good two feet, he was blatantly missed by Chris Jones, who had the ball.

Just really bad basketball, folks.

Some of Pitt's problems have been in shooting the ball. They had another horrible shooting day and sometimes the ball just doesn't go in. But much of it is also on playing just bad basketball and not being a sound team. Pitt, for example, was outrebounded by 14 today. Things like rebounding are largely based on effort. And in a game that required all hands on deck and guys doing whatever they could to win, to be beaten that badly on the boards is a really bad look.

For the first time this year, I think some sense of panic will set in with a lot of fans. I wasn't there before since Pitt played Notre Dame and Virginia pretty well while putting together a great second half against Louisville. But there are too many alarms with this team right now and when you throw an injured Luther into the mix, it's hard to have much optimism at all around this team after a game like this.

Pitt has plenty of time to turn it around and as they showed against some of the better teams they've faced this year, when they're on, they're a pretty good team. But with many more showings like today, things could get ugly in a hurry.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt comeback falls short against Louisville in 85-80 loss

If you had told me the Panthers would score 80 points tonight, I would have given them a pretty good chance to win. Louisville's offense hasn't been stellar and it was the defense that Pitt had to worry about.

Unfortunately, as we saw Saturday when the Panthers outscored Syracuse in the second half but were dominated in the first 20 minutes, there are two halves to a game. Pitt won the second half against Louisville handily (54-38) but were beaten worse than that margin (47-26) in the first half. Add it all up, and the Panthers fell 85-80 on the road in their latest ACC game.

The end result, of course, isn't disappointing. Sorry, but if you're expecting a win against a Top 15 team on the road vs. a program that Pitt has struggled badly with through the years, you might be setting unrealistic expectations. What's not unreasonable, however, is to expect the team to just come out and not get killed in the first half of a game.

If you're keeping track at home, that's now twice in a row we've seen this out of Pitt. Falling behind by 20 points at halftime in any conference game is just flat out embarrassing. To do it twice is sort of surreal. I don't have a problem with Pitt losing games like these at all this season. What I have an issue with is getting run out of the gym in the first half the very game after that same thing just happened.

Jamel Artis was nothing short of sensational. If you're not convinced that guy will get NBA looks, all you have to do is check out the tape from tonight. I'm not sure he'll land on a roster or get drafted but teams will be watching. He's been an offensive juggernaut all season long but this was the best game of his Pitt career. Artis had 43 points on 15-22 shooting to go along with seven three-pointers. He didn't do much else but anytime a guy gives you 43 points, you don't quibble. Artis has defensive deficiencies but, man, that guy can score.

Michael Young was far less impressive. With a double double (17 points and a team-high 11 boards), Young was hardly terrible. But he also made only five shots all night (out of 14 attempts) and, worse, was 4-11 from the free throw line.

Those free throws, by the way, were an absolute killer. His seven misses accounted for more than half of the entire rest of the team's and, in a five-point game, you certainly don't need me to tell you how important those were. Young is an 81% free throw shooter so to see him come out and lay an egg at the line is just ugly. And given that four of his misses came in the last ten minutes of the game, well, that didn't do the team any favors as they tried to come back and win.

In the absolute 'dog' category was Cameron Johnson, for a second straight game. Cam is now 3-20 in his past two contests and, at the moment, is making my comments about him drawing NBA attention in one of the recent articles look a bit foolish. I still believe that Cam is capable of getting looks by the time he's a senior but these last two games have not helped the team at all. Pitt can live without a third guy scoring when you're getting 60 points from Artis and Young. But the team has to play defense and can't have guys jacking up ten shots while only making one of them.

And with Cam out there for 31 minutes, he didn't exactly fill up the box score elsewhere, either. In all, to have one rebound, one assist, and no steals with that much time on the court is sort of embarrassing. You have to find a way to contribute elsewhere if the shots aren't falling. For example, it's a little easier to overlook Sheldon Jeter struggling on the offensive end if he's pulling in 7-8 rebounds.

Earlier this week, I wrote that Ryan Luther needed to step up. He took some baby steps towards that tonight with six points and six rebounds off the bench, but it was hardly a great game for him. He played a ton, getting 27 minutes, so his production is muted a little considering that. His only field goal came at the very end with the game ending and he also had four turnovers (something I mentioned was an issue in that article). The rest of the bench contributed only one point but didn't play all that much.

If the game was closer at halftime, do we see Pitt surge like they did? Eh, I don't know. Maybe Louisville keeps up the intensity and doesn't let Pitt get as close as they did tonight. But one thing's clear. Pitt has to get the sluggish starts out of their system. It's one thing to start slowly and trail by 6-8 points at halftime. But if you're trailing by 21 to a ranked team on the road, the game is practically over. The team has to come out with more intensity and find a way to knock down more shots early on.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Against the Odds: Louisville big favorites over Pitt

Pitt goes on the road against a ranked team and Vegas is taking notice and favoring the Cardinals by double digits.

Pitt travels to Louisville to take on Rick Pitino’s Cardinals tonight. The game starts at 7PM at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville is 13-3 and 1-2 in the ACC. All three of their losses are to ranked teams in Baylor, Virginia, and Notre Dame. They are battle tested and have taken down the likes of Kentucky, Indiana, and Purdue this season. Louisville comes into the contest ranked 13th and 14th respectively in the polls. Vegas certainly is taking this into consideration and has made the Cardinals a 12 point favorite over Pitt.

Pitt enters tonight at 12-4 and 1-2 in the conference. After the close loss to Notre Dame and the upset of UVA, Pitt seemed to be on the upswing. Syracuse brought them back down to earth hard and that probably led to the big point spread this evening. Pitt must play more like they did after the 30-2 run the Orange laid on them in the first half, this past weekend, if they want to have a prayer.

Louisville’s Pitino brings in his usual pressure defense squad and that could pose some huge problems with the Panthers. Their lack of ball handling guards makes this a less than ideal matchup. Pitt has to find ways to break U of L’s press and crash the boards with aggression. Louisville is 11th in the country in rebounding, so Sheldon Jeter will be of great importance on the glass.

As with most of the ACC schedule, this is another tough game for Pitt. There is a flip side to that though. If they can overcome the Vegas oddsmakers and pull off another upset, it’s easy to gain recognition around the country.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

Nick Saban reacts to Alabama's heartbreaking national championship loss to Clemson

Nick Saban coached the Alabama Crimson Tide to the brink of his sixth national championship, but a last-second touchdown from Clemson spoiled those plans.

The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 35-31 in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Monday night.

>> WATCH: Clemson wins national championship with dramatic touchdown pass on final drive

Here’s what Saban had to say in the moments following the heartbreaking loss for the Crimson Tide, as told to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi:

“I told the players that I was really proud of what they were able to accomplish this year. One game doesn’t define who you are and I think we have a team of winners. They’ve represented themselves that way all year long, and I’m proud of their accomplishments. For our seniors, they’ve won three SEC championships in a row, been to three straight playoffs, won the national championship.

>> PHOTOS: Clemson beats Alabama to win College Football Playoff national championship

"It was a tough way for the team to lose, but we had our opportunities to stop them and didn’t do it. They made some plays down the stretch and some great catches. We didn’t make the plays we needed to make.”

>> Read more trending stories

Rinaldi asked him what the difference was in the game:

“I think they made some really good plays at the end of the game and Deshaun Watson was an outstanding player and played fantastic. They were a good team in two-minute. We needed to make a play and didn’t. Getting a penalty in that situation doesn’t help either.”

Nick Saban on changing offensive coordinators the week of the title game:— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) January 10, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Nick Saban to ESPN: "One game doesn't define who you are."— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) January 10, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Saban: "Give credit to Clemson. We had our chances and we couldn't get done what we needed to do."— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) January 10, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Nick Saban to Terry and his family in the press conference, "Sorry, guys."— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 10, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

WATCH: Clemson wins national championship with dramatic touchdown pass on final drive

Clemson won the national championship with a clutch final drive.

>> Nick Saban reacts to Alabama's heartbreaking national championship loss to Clemson

Quarterback Deshaun Watson connected with wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for a 2-yard touchdown pass with one second left to beat Alabama 35-31 on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

>> PHOTOS: Clemson beats Alabama to win College Football Playoff national championship

On the previous drive, Alabama took the lead with a wild drive of its own, capped by an athletic touchdown run by quarterback Jalen Hurts. But it wasn’t enough for the Crimson Tide to claim a second consecutive national title.

>> Read more trending stories

Alabama looked to be in good shape entering the fourth quarter with 24-14 lead. But it wasn’t meant to be, and Clemson earned the right to celebrate during a memorable night in Tampa.

>> Click here to watch the video

Ball. Game.— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) January 10, 2017

Panther of the Week: Jamel Artis

A week that went up and down saw two 20+ point performances from Jamel Artis for Pitt

Pitt had a strong upset win over Virginia and then a first half letdown against Syracuse to go 1-1 this past week in the ACC. Through both, it seemed that senior Jamel Artis stayed consistent on the floor and therefore, takes home the Panther of the Week award. Michael Young, Sheldon Jeter, and Cam Johnson also put up some nice numbers, but none better than Artis.

In Pitt’s thrilling OT victory over UVA, Artis led all Pitt scorers with 24 points. He struggled from the free throw line, but nailed 6 of 7 shots from three point land. He chipped in seven rebounds, four assists, and one block. His hot three-point shooting included a dagger three to extend Pitt’s overtime lead to nine.

The Baltimore, MD native followed that up with another solid performance, in a game that most Panther fans would like to forget. While most of the Pitt players took the first half off Saturday, Artis poured in 23 points for the game along with five rebounds and 1 assist. He help Pitt claw back into the contest throughout the second half as well to make the score respectable. The 11 point loss locked a ton better than it actually was for the Panthers.

I think we’ve made it very clear, on this site, that Pitt needs more than Artis and Young to step up and become a real threat. So far this season, it hasn’t happened like they need it too. The week that you see someone other than Artis or Young in this space for Panther of the Week is either going to be a very good or very bad week for Pitt. Let’s hope for the first option there.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

WATCH: Georgia Tech swim team does laps in snow after meet canceled

Swimmers from Georgia Tech wouldn’t let a little snow stop them from doing what they do best.

The swim team’s meet Saturday at Virginia Tech was canceled due to snow, so the swimmers were stuck at their hotel.

>> Read more trending stories

Members of a relay team decided to go through with their event – but in the snow.  

The video was shared on the Georgia Tech Facebook page. 

>> Check it out here

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Georgia Tech Men's Snow 4X50 RelayWhat happened when the Georgia Tech swim team got snowed in to their hotel and their meet at Virginia Tech was cancelled.Posted by Georgia Tech on Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pitt needs more from sixth man Ryan Luther

Pitt's basketball team has seen its ups and downs lately. The Panthers had to score 112 points against a Marshall team that put up 106. There were some blown leads in a last-second defeat at Notre Dame. Then, Pitt upset No. 11 Virginia before losing to a down Syracuse team lately.

In that stretch, Pitt hasn't gotten nearly enough from its sixth man, Ryan Luther.

In case you didn't see it, the Panthers got nothing from their bench in yesterday's loss to Syracuse. Luther, Damon Wilson, Justice Kithcart, and Jonathan Milligan combined for 28 minutes and exactly zero points to go along with three turnovers. Luther is easily the most capable of those players of producing anything but was barely noticeable in his 16 minutes on the court.

What has been noticeable, though, is Luther's drop in the team's last several games. It's even more glaring considering what Luther was doing just last month. The Pitt junior had a tremendous run back in early/mid December, you might recall, and four games against Buffalo, Penn State, Rice, and Omaha, he could do no wrong.

All three of his games where he got into double figures in scoring came in that stretch and he put up a career-best 20 against Rice in that game where he was 8-8 from the field. He also had seven rebounds in two of those contests and despite playing nearly 24 minutes a game, he only averaged a little more than one turnover. Over those four games, he averaged 11.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and an assist per game while shooting a whopping 78% from the field. Remember these numbers because I'm going to reference them later.

By all measures, Luther appeared to be taking the next step as a player and threatening to challenge for major minutes in the rotation. There were calls by some to insert him into the starting lineup over Sheldon Jeter and his rebounding prowess. Since then, though, Pitt has struggled with his utilization and he isn't producing nearly as well as he did to start the season.

Some of this isn't entirely on Luther, mind you, since his minutes have dipped considerably. And being on a team where the starters have been playing so many minutes and eating up so many of the shots at the offensive end, it's easy for the bench to see very limited opportunities. That level of competition is also increasing, of course.

Through the team's first 12 games, he averaged nearly 22 minutes a game. In these last four, he's played about 15 per contest. Even considering that, though, his production hasn't been commensurate with the time he's gotten. And while the starters (particularly Michael Young and Jamel Artis) do take a lot of the shots, as Luther showed in those four games I mentioned, he's capable of getting involved - and that includes other areas like rebounding.

In Pitt's first 12 contests, Luther was scoring about .35 points a minute and over the last four, that's been cut in half. Similarly, his rebounding per game has taken a hit, too (down from .22 rebounds per minute in the first 12 games to about .16 boards in the last four). During that same stretch, one thing that's up is the number you don't want to be - turnovers. Despite not playing very much, Luther's still had seven of those in the last four games and his turnover rate per minute has nearly doubled in those games compared to the first 12.

Remember those four games I talked about where Luther excelled? Compare that to his numbers in these last four - 2.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, .8 assists per game while shooting 36% from the field.

Like I said, the level of competition has to do with a lot of this since three of the team's last four games have been ACC games. But his scoring and turnover numbers on a per-minute basis have been cut in half and doubled, respectively - a large swing. Imagine if, for example, players like Young and Artis had experienced similar cuts in production. The team would easily be 0-4 instead of 2-2.

To be fair, Luther did play a strong game against Virginia with eight points (4-6 from the field) and four rebounds with a pair of steals in only 20 minutes. But Pitt needs him to have those kinds of games all the time and not just sporadically. Plus, Luther also managed three turnovers (tied for his season high), which is simply too many for those types of minutes.

Part of the reason Luther's production is important to track isn't just for this year - it's for next year when he'll be one of the leaders on a pretty depleted team. In 2017-18, the Panthers lose four of their key players in seniors Young, Artis, Chris Jones, and Sheldon Jeter. Luther almost assuredly will not only be thrust into the starting lineup but should be one of the team's top players. Cameron Johnson, the Panthers' No. 3 scorer and a pretty good player, should assume the mantle of best player, but Luther will be right behind him.

Pitt needs him to be productive this year to gain some momentum that will carry over into next season when he's expected to do much more. For that reason, it's imperative that Pitt continue to find ways to get him onto the court and into positions where he can be successful.

Luther has shown he's capable of big things, so it won't be surprising when he gets back to having some better games. He won't ever be a superstar in the mold of a Young or Artis this season, but he is capable of being a big weapon off the bench this year and a solid starter next season. The Panthers have a third wheel in the form of Johnson this year, but they need Luther to provide a little more depth off the bench.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt beaten by Syracuse, 77-66

Sometimes the final score of a game isn't truly indicative of how things went. That was sort of the case today as Pitt lost to Syracuse, 77-66. While the final will look pretty respectable, most of the game, the Panthers simply weren't competitive. For much of the contest, the lead was up over 20 points, in fact. Syracuse had a 20-point lead under five minutes in the game until Pitt sort of had a flurry at the end to cut it nearly in half.

Syracuse did it with only six guys playing, too. The Panthers went much deeper into the bench but got zero production from those guys. Four guys played off the bench for Pitt but they took only three shots and made none of them. The bench hasn't been particularly deep for Pitt this year but I don't know that they've gone scoreless before without looking it up.

Jamel Artis and Michael Young gave Pitt their regular 40 points today (23 from Artis and 17 from Young). But, like the rest of the team, they didn't shoot too well, making a combined 12 of 29 shots. Others were far worse, though, in terms of efficiency in shooting the ball. Sheldon Jeter had a double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but also another 3-10 game (he was also 3-10 in that Notre Dame game last week, you might remember). Cam Johnson was an awful 2-10. Those were the four guys taking the bulk of the shots and when none of them are particularly on, that's going to be a problem.

In all, Pitt shot about 35% from the field while Syracuse was up over 50%. You hate to oversimplifly but sometimes the game really is as simple as who shot the ball better. Today, it wasn't even close and the way the teams shot the ball was easily the story of the game.

One thing everyone should be thankful for is the Virginia win. With two losses to start the ACC season, things aren't great. Three, and it might be all out panic mode. Granted, none of these games were easy - you had two ranked teams and a traditional rival of sorts on the road that was desperate for a win. But 1-2 at this point is far better than 0-3.

Losing this game is a bit frustrating because Syracuse has been down this year. But all teams simply have games like this and sometimes, there's no amount of preparation that can help. Blaming a loss like today on head coach Kevin Stallings is silly. The team not only had plenty of open looks, often, they were completely alone. This was all about players not being able to shoot and having an off game. Jamie Dixon, Roy Williams, or Coach K wouldn't have salvaged this hot mess. You almost always have to shoot reasonably well to win and today, Pitt didn't do that.

Could Pitt come out and defend a little better since Syracuse shot about 52% from the field? Sure, I guess. But if the Panthers shot even respectable today, that would have gone a long way to helping. They also outrebounded Syracuse (+8) and each team had about the same amount of turnovers, so I'm not sure this is really an effort situation. Plus, Syracuse was 52% from long range, too, making 14-27 there. Pitt wasn't only ice cold but the Orange were also red hot. That's an ugly combination.

And in terms of wanting to win this one, it's easy to forget that Pitt wasn't even expected to win. The Panthers were 3 1/2-point underdogs coming into the game so it's not as if they flubbed an easy one here. This was a desperate Syracuse team that absolutely was in more need of a win than Pitt. Not to say that Pitt can afford to give games like this away but their resume coming into the game was also much better than that of the Orange.

This is the ultimate get on the bus and move onto the next one type of game. Unfortunately, though, with a road game against Louisville, things don't exactly get easier. The schedule does let up a little later on, but as we all knew, the ACC slate is a very difficult one.

That's part of the reason you want to win a game like today against a team that's been struggling. And if you're going to completely lay an egg, you can argue it would be more beneficial to do so against a great team when you're not necessarily hoping to win. But that's not the way it works and sometimes those eggs come in otherwise very winnable contests.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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