In 1st place, Louisville coach says Pitt can go deep in NCAAs

Louisville coach wants his team to be like Pitt-‘of the teams we’ve played, none are better than Pittsburgh’
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Photo credit 93.7 The Fan

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – You don’t believe Pitt is for real? How about a man who’s coached in 10 NCAA tournaments, four Final Fours and won a national championship as a player? Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said after Pitt beat them 91-57 Tuesday, they have played Miami, NC State and Clemson and no one is better than Pitt. He believes they are the type of team that could go deep in the NCAA Tournament.

“In my mind, I rack my brain over what we could do different,” Payne said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams in this conference, I’m here to tell you probably the most complete, toughest team we’ve faced in this conference is Pittsburgh.”

“Tough, fight, can score, can score multitude of ways, they share the ball, they talk on defense. When one guys I down, I hear four others talking to that one who is down. When the play happened when the big guy threw Mike James to the floor, that’s what they live for.”

“I watched as they huddled up after that play and I saw what I want my guys to be. I want my guys to be tough like that. To be one like that.”

“Of the teams we’ve played, none are better than Pittsburgh.”

Pitt came into the matchup 9-3 in the ACC, but a question of how they would handle being a 15.5-point favorite and following a bye weekend. Check that off this list. The Panthers are now 17-7, 10-3 in the ACC, that’s tied for first place in the conference.

It’s Pitt’s most overall wins since President Obama was in office and they are one win from tying the school’s most ever in the ACC set in its first year in the conference in 2013-14. The Panthers were picked 14th in the preseason.

“Really proud of our team’s performance after being off,” said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel, noting they didn’t play last weekend. “I was really concerned. The first four minutes our defense wasn’t as sharp as it should be. Obviously, we made shots, we shared the basketball.”

This Panthers team made up almost exclusively of first-and-second-year players to them were in the newfound position of being 15.5-point favorites against an ACC foe. The game was tied at 14 with 13:25 to play in the first half, but a 19-1 run, 62% shooting and balanced scoring led the Panthers to race out to a 20-point halftime.

It was over.

Any hope for the Cardinals erased by a 16-3 run to start the second half.

“Really proud of our team’s performance after being off,” said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “I was really concerned. The first four minutes our defense wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be. We settled into the game. Obviously we made shots, we shared the basketball.”

“How they mix up driving the ball, to kicking out, to making layups,” Payne said. “If you are ever lackadaisical toward coming towards the shooter, they are either going to blow by you or they are going to shoot the ball and probably make it.”

“They are a very good team. A very good offensive team. A very tough team. A very connected team. They got a chance to win this conference.”

Panthers had five players in double figures, led by Nike Sibande off the bench with 15 points. Greg Elliott had 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range. Blake Hinson, Nelly Cummings and Guillermo Diaz Graham each had 11 points, Hinson and Cummings each making three threes, Guillermo made a pair.

Panthers superlatives

·     Shot 55% from three
·     Season-high 23 assists on 28 made field goals
·     season-high 13 blocks (Guillermo-5, Jorge Diaz Graham-4)
·     18-20 free throws
·     season-high 41 bench points

Up Next

Panthers are back on the road seeking a split of the season series with Florida State Saturday at noon, pregame with Bill Hillgrove, Curtis Aiken and Cale Berger at 11:30a on 93.7 The Fan.

Featured Image Photo Credit: 93.7 The Fan