Pitt Basketball: Panthers Fail To Defend Indiana In ACC/Big Ten Challenge


Dec 2, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Josh Newkirk (13) makes a pass against Indiana Hoosiers forward Troy Williams (5) at Assembly Hall. Indiana defeats Pittsburgh 81-69. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Pitt took care of Penn State at home in its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

This year, the Panthers were given a different challenge by traveling to Indiana to square off with Tom Crean’s Hoosiers, and Pitt did not tack one on for the ACC.

The Pitt Panthers are showing a glaring weakness, which is not normally seen in a Jamie Dixon coached team:

Sluggish defense.

As was seen against Hawaii and San Diego State, Pitt (4-3) could not stop Indiana (6-1) inside, being outscored 48-28 in the paint.  The Hoosiers shot 53.2% (33 for 61) compared to Pitt’s abysmal 36.1% (26 for 72) in a 81-69 victory Tuesday night.

Bad defense and bad offense spells a bad team at this early stage of the season.

The Panthers are young and showed promise against Kansas State to take third place in the Maui Invitational, but tonight, they digressed back to the team that we watched against the Aztecs.

Pitt sophomore guard Josh Newkirk provided some spark scoring 16 points and 8 assists.  Unfortunately, Pitt is showing a weakness when it comes to finding a true scorer.  Sophomore guard Chris Jones shot 6 of 17 for 18 points, and sophomore forward Michael Young added 13 points.

Junior point guard James Robinson only scored 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting, and Pitt needs him to step up as a scorer if they want to be competitive in ACC play.

For Indiana, freshman forward Emmitt Holt came off the bench and had a season-high 15 points without missing a shot.  Freshman guard James Blackmon Jr scored 13 points, and junior guard Yogi Ferrell added 11 points.

Indiana only trailed 2-0 and 4-2, and the Hoosiers essentially controlled most of the game.  They jumped out to a 36-23 lead from a Collin Hartman three-pointer, and went into the half with a 45-37 advantage.

The Panthers would not punch back, as they fell down 23 points when Yogi Ferrell made a jumper to give Indiana a 72-49 lead with roughly 7 minutes remaining.

Pitt, who fizzled for most of the game, made a small comeback to make the blowout look more bearable, as Indiana won 81-69.

This now gives Pitt its third loss, which is uncharacteristic of a Jamie Dixon team so early in a season.  The Panthers continue to show lack of leadership, and when a lethargic emotion hits this team, the entire team becomes dull and lifeless.

Hopefully someone will step up and become a leader for this young Panthers squad, instead of relying upon the return of senior guard Cameron Wright.

Pitt has much work to do if they want to be competitive in the ACC and make a NCAA Tourney appearance.  The beauty of college basketball is that there are several more games to be played.

Pitt will look to rebound on Friday night against Duquesne in the inaugural city league game.