Pitt Struggles And Falls To Clemson 71-62 At Home


Jan 10, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Jamel Artis (1) dribbles the ball as Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) defends during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jamie Dixon was looking for his 300th win in his 400th game at Pitt, and he had the chance to do get it in front of the home crowd at the Peterson Events Center.

Clemson had other ideas.

The Tigers dominated Pitt inside and drained 8 three pointers to give Pitt its first loss at home this season.

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The Panthers continue to struggle offensively and defensively, which may be attributable to the lack of a true center and recent recruiting misses.

Clemson only shot 28% as a team from the three point line this season, but the Tigers were 8 of 18 (44%) today against Pitt.

For Pitt (11-5, 1-2 ACC), senior guard Cameron Wright found his shot and scored 18 points, while sophomore guard Chris Jones scored 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting from the three point line.

For Clemson (9-6, 1-2 ACC), sophomore forward Jaron Blossomgame scored 18 points, and senior guard Rod Hall added 12 points in the victory.

This was a bad loss for Jamie Dixon and Pitt, as Clemson has losses to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb this season.

The Clemson bench added 23 points, whereas Pitt only had 7.  Clemson shot nearly 50%, playing a very strong inside and out game.  Pitt had no answer inside, as forward Michael Young continues to be forced to battle with true centers, and forward Jamel Artis continues to struggle on the defensive side.

On the bright side, we have to remember how young this team is, as there is much room for improvement with experience.

If Pitt was bothered by the length of Clemson, they will certainly have problems against Florida State on Wednesday night at home.  The Seminoles have three 7-footers on their squad and play strong defense like Clemson.

It is going to be tough to win without a true center, a true scoring guard, and a lack of defensive presence, but hopefully the young guys improve.

A 17-14 game midway through the first half, the Tigers pulled out to a 30-19 lead.  Pitt only made 9 free throws during a 7 minute span, and that is simply not good enough to win.

Wright scored 8 points in the final 2 and a half minutes to cut the Clemson lead to 36-31 at half.

An Artis jumper tied the game 44-44 six minutes into the second half, but then the Panthers went on a severe scoring drought and faced a 60-49 deficit with less than 6 minutes remaining.

Unlike Boston College, the Clemson Tigers were able to break Pitt’s press and make several easy shots inside, quieting the Oakland Zoo and pulling off a win in a building where Pitt wins 88% of its games.

This year has the potential to be very rough, but Pitt will have several chances to win some big games against top 10 opponents in ACC play.

I thought the Panthers would be much better than they are playing this season.  I thought the combination of Cameron Wright, Durand Johnson, and James Robinson would provide scoring and the experience that Pitt fans are accustomed to seeing.

I thought Joseph Uchebo would become a dominant center, and Derrick Randall would be a nice backup center off the bench.

I thought sophomores Michael Young, Jamel Artis, and Sheldon Jeter would be very athletic players at the power forward position.

I thought sophomore guards Josh Newkirk and Chris Jones would take a huge step forward.

Hopefully Pitt can improve upon this latest loss, but I have to put Pitt’s struggles this season on Coach Dixon.  The offensive system is too stagnant, players are out of position, the team lacks a presence at center, and the defense isn’t as strong as we are accustomed to watching.


Pitt will host Florida State on Wednesday night.

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