The competition was much better than it had been during their first four victories of the season and although the Pitt Panthers competed, ultimately they fell short for the first time this season in a 72-59 loss to No. 11 Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Purdue (7-0) seven footer A. J. Hammons was unstoppable in the second half, scoring 17 of his game-high 24 points during the second 20 minutes to help lead the Boilermakers to the victory. Hammons also added 12 rebounds in the win.
Pitt (4-1) got blitzed to start the game and fell behind by as many as 17 in the first half. They eventually came back to take a one-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game, but Purdue freshman Ryan Cline knocked down one of his four three-pointers on the night on the ensuing possession to give Purdue the lead right back. Cline finished the night with 12 points.
The Panthers went cold late in the second half, going scoreless for over five minutes, which ultimately did them in. Purdue extended their lead to double digits, but the Panthers came back once again and cut the lead to six with just under three minutes left, but they would get no closer
Michael Young led Pitt with 16 points and 12 rebounds. James Robinson added 17.
Game of Runs- Purdue started things with an 18-3 run out of the gate, making 10 of their first 17 field goal attempts. However Pitt turned the tables and closed the half on a 23-11 run, holding Purdue to just 2-of-16 from the floor in that span, to pull within 29-26 at the half.
Cold Shooting- The Pitt offense, which has been outstanding to start the season, had a poor shooting day from the floor. Pitt made just 35 percent (20-of-57) of their attempts on the night and knocked down just 4-of-19 (21 percent) of their attempts from behind the arc. Meanwhile Purdue shot 44 percent from the floor and hit 11-of-28 3-point attempts. Pitt’s Jamel Artis had an especially poor shooting night, scoring just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Coming off the Pine- The Pitt bench, which has been very good through four games, was outscored by the Purdue bench 44-15. Sheldon Jeter led all Pitt reserves with seven points.
Cutting down the trees- After falling behind early, the Panthers switched to a zone and it was effective as they got back into the game. It also helped them limit the damage that 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas was able to do. Haas finished with just six points and two rebounds. But they had no answer for Hammons, who killed Pitt in the second half.
In the first half Rafael Maia provided some energy at the defensive end. But in the second half, Pitt simply had no one to match up with Hammons. Once Purdue made some jump shots they were able to shoot Pitt out of the zone and once they went man it was light’s out.
Up Next: Pitt will be back in action Friday when they take on Duquesne in the annual City Game.
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