PITTSBURGH—Pitt (12-2, 0-1 Big East) took a 34-26 lead at the break but eighth-ranked Cincinnati (13-1, 1-0 Big East) fought back and midway through the second half pulled away for a 70-61 win Monday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center in front of 12,510.
“It was a tale of two halves. We’re a better team than the way we played in the second half,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “Year-after-year we usually come out strong in the second half but we got totally out-played in the second half.”
Pitt was winning the battle of the boards in the first half but got beat bad on the boards in the second half, a key Dixon pointed out as contributing to the loss.
“We out-rebound them by four in the first half but got out-rebounded by nine in the second half. That is a big number,” Dixon said. “Being out-rebounded, defensive breakdowns, and missed free throws all added up. That’s on us. We didn’t get it done.”
Pitt went 0-10 from three-point range, 15 for 25 from the free throw line, and was out-rebounded 37-32 for the game. The last time Pitt did not hit a three-pointer was March 12, 2009 which was at the Big East Tournament against West Virginia.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin pointed out the Bearcats strategy entering the game which played out exactly as he drew it up.
“We try to keep the pressure up and win the game in the last ten minutes," Cronin said. "Out-rebounding Pitt is no small order.”
Cincinnati was led by Cashmere Wright with 18 points, Sean Kilpatrick with 16 points, and Jaquon Parker with 13 points. Wright also stressed how the Bearcats defense plays up-tempo the entire game in an effort to wear down their opponent.
“The first 30 minutes we try to wear you out the most we can,” Wright said. “In the last 10 minutes we feel the opponent will start making bad decisions.”
The competition continues to get better as the Panthers now play their next two games on the road, at Rutgers on Jan. 5 and at Georgetown on Jan 9.
“We had opportunities,” Dixon said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
For more information: Pitt web site