DAYTON, OH (93.7 The Fan) – Mississippi State had just gone on a 6-0 run to take the lead with about a minute to play. There was no doubt for the Panthers who would take their last shot. Jamarius Burton held it, took it and made it to help Pitt win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2014.
“When I got the ball, I told myself I’m built for it,” Burton said. “I’ve been in this position before with the ball in my hands throughout this season and last year where it came down to me taking a shot. I told myself I’m built for it, gave myself the confidence and just got to a spot and let it go.”
He made it sound easy, but against one of the best defensive teams in all of Division 1. Burton was tightly guarded, but was able to create enough room to give Pitt the lead with 10 seconds left.
“When they scored it, I got the ball immediately when we took it out of bounds,” Burton explained. “We got to an action that we liked and I went through my progression.”
“What we wanted to do was put the ball in JB’s hands and that’s what we did,” Blake Hinson said simply. More coming up on the big shot he hit.
Normally a guy who will play 35 minutes in a tight game, Burton was limited to 19 because of foul trouble. That he wasn’t as modest about, he admitted it made the game and eventual win over Mississippi State 60-59 tough.
“It was very difficult,” Burton said of having four fouls. “I kept talking to the guys, remaining cheerful, remaining positive about the position we were in. As long as we win, I don’t care. I just knew going out there and having the opportunity to play down the stretch that I could make an impact to help us win.”
“It was a tough shot because JB was out most of the game because of foul trouble, but he was JB,” said Jorge Diaz Graham. “He does that. As soon as he shot it we knew it was in.”
“Super difficult,” said guard Nike Sibande. “JB had four fouls. He was fighting it all night. He was really fighting it all night. To continue to persevere and come in and make that shot. It was huge. It was a huge shot. We needed it. We needed everybody tonight. Every bucket counted and we are going to continue to build.”
Another bucket that counted and was huge, was Hinson’s from way-deep to give Pitt a 58-52 lead with 3:08 to play.
That keyed a 7-0 run and charged up an arena with a lot of Pitt fans.
“It’s something that really heightens your emotions, the toughest part is checking your emotions afterwards because they went on a 6-0 run,” Hinson said. “You have to keep your emotions in check.”
“That’s what Blake do, honestly I don’t really know what else to say about that,” said guard Greg Elliott. “That’s just what he does. We need a big shot and if it’s not in JB’s hands if it’s a three, and it’s not me, I think Blake is going to know it down and that’s what he did.”
“That felt amazing,” Sibande said. “He pulled that thing from dang-near half court. Blake, he’s a really good player, a sniper. He got it. We all believe in him taking those shots.”
Panthers face Iowa State Friday afternoon in Greensboro and you’ll hear it on 93.7 The Fan.