Sunday, January 5, 2014

Game 14: Pitt 74 NC State 62

Pitt's inaugural ACC game was a tale of two halves.  A Michael Young jumper tied the game at 2 in the first couple minutes.  After that the Wolfpack went on a 15-0 run highlighted by 9 points on 4-4 shooting by ACC leading scorer and former McDonald's All-American TJ Warren.  Everything was going NC State's way.  Patterson was throwing passes into the stands.  On one NC State possession they lost track of the shot clock, but Warren burried a deep 3 anyway.  A layup by Newkirk broke a 5 minute scoreless drought.  Pitt took control from that point on.  They played NC State even the rest of the half and went into intermission trailing by 8.  A 28-10 run in the first 9 minutes of the second half gave Pitt a lead they wouldn't relinquish.  After starting 4-4, Warren shot 4-18 the rest of the way.  Here are the grades.

Lamar Patterson - Patterson took control in the second half, scoring 17 of his team-high 22 after intermission.  He also had 8 rebounds and 6 assists including a nifty pass to a cutting Wright that cut the NC State lead to 2 early in the second half.  Patterson is an All-ACC performer, and Pitt will go as far as he takes them.

Grade:  A (MVP)

Michael Young - Young had a career high 13 points on 4-7 shooting, which was encouraging given how poorly he has shot for the season.  He even made his only three pointer.  He's only 3-10 from long range for the year.  It was early in the shot clock, but Young was trailing the play, and nobody came out to guard him.  Shoot the rock, young fella.  He did have an uncharacteristically low 2 rebounds, though.

Grade:  A-

James Robinson - Robinson didn't do much this game.  He picked up his 3rd foul early in the 2nd half.  Robinson absolutely has to stay out of foul trouble.  Newkirk has improved, but he is still a freshman point guard.  This was also the second game that Robinson failed to get to the line.  His only two baskets came in succession as he had a layup, stole the ball on the ensuing NC State possession and then had another layup.  He had 0 turnovers in 27 minutes, though.

Grade:  B-

Cameron Wright - Wright shot poorly (4-12) but his 3 point play gave Pitt its first lead of the game.  That play was of course off an assist from Patterson.  He also had his usual three steals to along with his 9 points.

Grade:  B

Talib Zanna - Zanna had a miserable first half.  He seemed passive, which seems to happen every year when conference play starts.  He also missed his first 3 free throws.  He did eventually settle down, making 7-8 from the line after the first three misses.  His final line (15 points 9 rebounds 4-6 shooting) is what he should be putting up every game for Pitt to be successful.

Grade:  B+

Josh Newkirk - Newkirk had the layup that broke the long scoring drought and also hit a 3 in the first half.  He didn't make any huge mistakes, which is all you can hope from him at this point.  It's insanely early, but it wouldn't shock me if Newkirk transferred at some point.  He's going to sit behind Robinson for three years, and neither one of them is a good enough shooter to warrant starting both of them in the backcourt like Gibbs and Woodall a few years back.  Also, Pitt has a ton of shooting guard recruits coming in the next few years.  Maybe I'm bitter from all the recent transfers Pitt has dealt with, but it would't shock me if Newkirk left at some point to be the starter at another school.

Grade:  B

Jamel Artis - Artis had all 6 of his points in the first half, including a nice put-back.  Pitt got 24 points from its three true freshmen, which pleases me.

Grade:  B+

Durand Johnson - The box score says he played 8 minutes, but he didn't attempt a shot and didn't do much else.  He's in a big time slump right now, and guys like Artis are outplaying him.

Grade:  C-

Chris Jones - He played only 4 minutes in the first half, but he did have two steals in a span of 30 seconds as Pitt was trying to get anything going offensively.  He did not score.

Grade:  B-

Derrick Randall - The only thing I remember from his 9 minutes was him getting a rebound over Warren, having Warren fall to the ground, and yet still being tied up by Warren to keep possession for NC State.  Frankly, how you have the ball knocked away from you by a defender who is lying on the ground is beyond me.

Grade:  D

This was a good win for Pitt.  NC State isn't a tournament, but coming from 15 down in a conference game on the road and winning comfortably is great to see.  They also managed to shut down a future NBA first round pick in Warren for the last 30 minutes.  Now Pitt just has to work on not falling behind by 15 points in the first place.  Their next game is Monday night against Maryland at the Pete.

Hail to Pitt,

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