And, down goes Pitt: 69-63 at Louisville.
This one was kind of a shocker - at least to me. Going in, I thought it would be a battle. But after Pitt hung with Louisville in the first half even with Blair and Young missing considerable time due to foul trouble, I figured they'd pull it out. When they went up by ten with more than half of the second half done, I thought it was in the bag. But Louisville kept scrapping away and found a way to win.
The press really seemed to kill Pitt. Some may think it's a blueprint for other teams to follow, but I don't know how many teams can press as well as Louisville does.
I'm a little disappointed - not because I thought they could go undefeated, because the conference is just too tough. But because it almost seems as if they let up a little after they pulled ahead in the 2nd half. When Pitt goes out and punches someone in the mouth late in the game, they don't usually have to worry about teams punching back...they usually just die.
You have to hand it to Louisville - their press worked extremely well in the first half and even when it wasn't effective in the 2nd half as players started fouling, it still kept the pressure on the Panthers.
The story for this one was the two things that will kill any team - turnovers (20 - 6 of which were Fields') and poor shooting (under 35%). Yuck. While Young is getting a lot of blame, which he should, for a 6-20 shooting performance, the turnovers just killed Pitt.
The secondary story for me is the tale of two players - Brad Wanamaker and Jermaine Dixon. Wanamaker really seems to have turned the corner this year, but he simply was overmatched. The press seemed to really get to him and while he did okay, he never was able to get into a rhythm offensively, scoring only 2 points (both free throws) in 19 minutes. It seemed he was too hurried just handling the ball that he never got a chance to focus offensively.
Dixon on the other hand has looked amazing these last two games. I'm hesitant to say that it's all credited two Juan Dixon and that post-game shooting session they had together that's mentioned a lot - I don't know if one session like that could bring about such a change. But I will say that the confidence he's getting is only making him better. He's shooting more and shooting better. He had a high of 19 points for Pitt and shot 3-4 from three-point range.
At any rate, Pitt doesn't have much time to get organized with a game on Monday against top 10 Syracuse. At least it's at home.
Regarding the rankings, I think they'll probably drop to #5-#6, but we'll see.