Pitt muscled past Georgia Tech tonight in a rock fight. The Yellow Jacket defense — tenacious all season —did their part, holding Pitt under 40% shooting and to less than a point (0.92) per possession. The Jackets just couldn’t muster enough offense themselves (35% shooting, 0.84 per possession) to get over the hump. Pitt yields three point opportunities — ACC foes are shooting 40% from behind the arc — and Georgia Tech missed a ton (4–18, 22.2%). A team that hits its threes (like us, at 51.6% over the last three games) should be able to make Pitt pay for those openings.
When Pitt wins, it’s because they hit threes (they shot 49% from behind the arc in their four regular season ACC wins and didn’t separate from Georgia Tech tonight until they started making them in the second half), they went to the line alot (they take considerably more in wins), and because they synced simultaneous strong games from Jamel Artis and Michael Young with contributions from one of Sheldon Jeter and Cameron Johnson. All of it happened in Pittsburgh (the Panthers shot 61% from behind the arc, took 28 FTs to 54 FGs, and got 43 from Young and Artis but 32 from Johnson and Jeter) and none of it happened in Charlottesville (20% on 20 three-point tries, just eight FTA, Artis and Young skipped breakfast and Johnson and Jeter combined for nine points and 4–14 shooting). I don’t think that Pitt is as bad as they looked in C’ville, but that game strikes me as much closer to the nature of both programs than the first meeting.
The goals: keep Artis and Young out of the lane, close out on shooters, and use a big to keep Sheldon Jeter off the glass. We did a pretty great job of this in Charlottesville — Artis never got involved at all, Young was a two point jump shooter, the closeouts were good, and Jack Salt held it down on both backboards in support of our four guard alignment. I don’t see why we can’t repeat that, and if our recent hot shooting makes the trip to Brooklyn (editor’s note: I originally wrote Greensboro — I’m here, and this is definitely not Greensboro), then we should be a good bet for Thursday at the ACCs. At least, I hope so. If we have to be upset by someone, I’d rather it not be a coach as generally unpleasant and filled with bile as Kevin Stallings.
G: London Perrantes — 6'2'’ sr #32
17 assists to two turnovers and 17 points per game on 52.6 percent three-point shooting (10–19) over our last three games. I think he’s ready for the postseason.
G: Devon Hall — 6'5'’ jr. #0.
Hall took a statistical step back in our finale against Pitt, but a.) did yeoman’s work on both Artis on the perimeter and Michael Young inside and b.) was this close to making a handful of the shots he missed.
G: Kyle Guy — 6'3'’ fr #5
Guy has hit 12 of 19 three-pointers over our last three games and has eight assists to just two turnovers over that stretch (with a turnover rate of less than 10% for the season).
G: Ty Jerome — 6'5'’ fr #11
Jerome’s ability to move London off the ball as well as create his own offense (his ability to change speeds to get defenders off balance is fantastic) makes him the single biggest key to our postseason success outside of London himself.
F: Jack Salt — 6'11'’ so #33
Salt’s nine rebounds against Pitt were great (as was his ability to get Jeter out of whack loading up for threes), but I was most impressed by how he dropped a couple of baby hooks.
G: Darius Thompson — 6'4'’ jr #51
Thompson went through a 1–14 stretch from behind the arc last season before making his last five. This season, the slump hit 1–16. Hoping the postseason turnaround lasts longer, too.
F: Isaiah Wilkins — 6'7'’ jr #21
Wilkins told Jeff White today that he’s still out of shape from being sick for two weeks. He’s played less than 20 minutes per game since playing 41 against Miami. We’re going to need him to play a major role at some point in this tournament.
F: Mamadi Diakite — 6'9'’ fr #25
Diakite dropping feathery hooks on Pitt on Saturday gave me the vapors.
G: Jamel Artis — 6'7'’ sr #1
Artis is in a shooting slump (39.2% overall, 26.7 percent on threes) that dates back more than a month. He’s still an able driver and facilitator, but he hasn’t been able to consistently be the second presence Pitt needs.
G: Chris Jones — 6'6'’ sr #13
Jones is primarily a defender and doer of dirty work, but he scored 11 points on Georgia Tech tonight and can hit shots when dared to do so.
F: Cameron Johnson — 6'8'’ so #23
Johnson (1–4, 0–2 from the arc) was a non-factor tonight. Georgia Tech did a good job running him off his original look and forcing him to pass. He did have five rebounds and four assists.
F: Michael Young — 6'9'’ sr #2
Young is strong enough to back smaller players down and has good enough handles to get by bigger players on the perimeter, which is why it’s frustrating when he goes into energy-saver mode and horks up a long two, even when it goes in.
F: Sheldon Jeter — 6'8'’ sr #21
Jeter is Pitt’s lone dedicated rebounder (10 percent OREB, 18.7 percent DREB) and has added stretchiness (1–4 on threes tonight, four in Pitt’s January win over us).
F: Ryan Luther — 6'9'’ jr #4
Luther is probably not as good as he’s shown in two games against us. He can rebound and defend a little, but is an upright defender and a little mechanical on offense.
G: Jonathan Milligan — 6'2'’ jr #55
Milligan has played 43 minutes in the last two games after playing 27 in the month of February. He works hard on D, takes care of the ball, and spots up for threes.
F: Rozelle Nix — 6'11' jr #25
Nix is enormous and takes in rebounds with his gravitational pull, but he only plays in certain matchups (UNC) and I don’t anticipate him playing much tomorrow.
A date with Notre Dame on Thursday night.