Okay, it was downright ugly.
As I started reading some of the post-game stories I was somewhat surprised. Not that this was the biggest win to date for Indiana post-Sampson. Or that Indiana was desperate for a win. No, it was reading how Pitt was strongly favored, which shocked me. I figured maybe a couple points, but the way Pitt had been playing most certainly would have kept the line down. Yet, there it was. Pitt was around a 9 point favorite. I guess mainly because of Indiana losing 4 games.
“We got what we really deserved,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “We didn’t play well. Indiana did.”
The poor shooting made rebounding a most meaningless stat. Pitt won the rebounding battle 45-39, but it mainly came because of the poor shooting and not good defense. Pitt was beaten by 6 on defensive boards but had a 21-9 edge on the offensive boards. Something that will definitely happen when you miss a lot of shots and the other team doesn’t.
The players after the game were focused on the problems at the other end.
“Defensively, we have to strap up,” said sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs, who scored a career-high 25 points. “We have to play tougher, especially down the stretch. Our offense comes from our defense and rebounding.”
Indiana penetrated freely against Pitt’s guards all game. The Hoosiers got to the free-throw line 34 times and converted 25 of those attempts. Verdell Jones, who came into the game averaging 11 points a game, scored 20 and got to the line eight times. Christian Watford got to the line 15 times and scored 12 of his 18 points from the charity stripe.
“It’s been a problem all season,” said junior guard Brad Wanamaker, who scored 18 points. “Guys are getting beat off the dribble. We’re not keeping people in front of us. Our rotation just hasn’t been there. It’s something we have to work on. We talk about it, but we don’t do it.”
“I’m not concerned about the offense,” Taylor said. “I’m more concerned about the defense. We’re letting teams score too easily. We’re not taking pride in defense. We need to put our foot down, stand up and play defense.”
While his impact was not particularly helpful in this game, Jermaine Dixon finally made his first start of the season. 13 minutes. 0 points. 2 rebounds. 1 assist. 1 block. 3 turnovers. 3 fouls.
Playing at MSG for Pitt often involves families and friends. So it is always interesting to see which players press a little too much. Travon Woodall had some 40 friends and family show up. Given how much he has been struggling I’m not sure he really pressed from that or just had another disappointing game. His minutes are dropping (23 last night) along with his scoring while fouls committed keep rising.