Wait. Pitt won?
Lots of gallows humor in this game. It was ugly. It was hard to watch. Moments of incredible stupidity. There were even a couple smart plays. But Pitt won in the end.
Pitt gave up more offensive rebounds (-4). They turned the ball over way more (13-7). With those differentials, Georgia Tech had a lot more shot attempts then Pitt (+8). But GT is an offensively challenged team (to be kind). While Pitt didn’t exactly light things up, they did just enough from the field and the free throw line to eke out a 61-59 win.
Let’s get the Stallings controversy out of the way. Quick recap. In the second half, as Pitt was trying to get to the basket, Sheldon Jeter dropped to the floor on a Ryan Luther turnover — for unclear reasons at that time — writhing in pain. Play continued with GT missing yet another shot. Pitt grabbed the rebound and play was stopped as Jeter was still down on the court.
As the trainer was tending to Jeter, a hot mike caught Coach Kevin Stallings yelling at Luther, Goddammit, get your fucking head in the game!” You might even have already come across some did a quick edit of the video to make it look like someone was yelling that at Jeter on the floor with the trainer over him.
The rush to condemn Stallings — by Pitt fans — was quick, and a bit over the top. I didn’t care about the cursing, and frankly, he was right about Luther. Luther had played 14 minutes at that point and had 0 points and 0 rebounds. He looked lost out there.
That said, that was absolutely the wrong time to be screaming at Luther — not because of the hot mike — but because the only concern should be for Jeter. There was no way to know at that point his status. Yes, the trainer was over there, but this is one of your players. Heck, this is the one player that has gone above and beyond on- and off-the-court to try and give Stallings a chance with this team.
Moving back to the game.
Pitt overcame its own poor shooting — especially in the first half from the perimeter. Pitt was 1-11 on the first half on 3s. But were sort of in control of the game because GT was missing everything, and Pitt was 10-17 on shots inside the arc. Very odd seeing Pitt getting a lot of points in the paint.
Pitt continued to miss from outside at the start of the second half. At one point, being 1-13 on 3s. Then they finally started falling — from Chris Jones. Jones had 2, Milligan had 1, Mike Young and when really needed, even Jamel Artis hit one.
Cam Johnson was in foul trouble during the game, but GT also stayed all over him. Not letting him have space or be set. As good a 3-point shooter as he is, he needs to be set and ready to shoot. Johnson is not one to come off a screen or be moving. He either has to be set when the ball comes to him, or he has to be going straight on to the basket when firing.
Artis had another mostly miserable game. He came up with some big shots late — and correctly fouled GT before the shot with 2.2 seconds left in the game as Pitt was clinging to a 3-point lead. Still, if Artis isn’t scoring you can see him visibly struggle to stay focused on the game at hand.
Now Pitt goes against Virginia for a third time this season at 9pm on ESPN2. We’ll see if Pitt can put together another good effort and energy.