Got a chance to go to Madison Square Garden to see Pitt against Duke. Because they don’t have internet, tonight’s post is going to start off with thoughts I had throughout the night, followed by a recap after seeing how everything unfolds- not exactly a live blog, but the best I can do:
7:05pm: Game starts off with Dejuan inside, followed by a rebound on the defensive end. Hopefully this will set a theme for the night.
7:10pm: Mike Cook seems to be trying too hard…already a travel and a bad pass in the first three minutes of the game. Score’s 5-3, we’re not giving Duke too many easy shots so far. Duke is playing a little wild, already has 4 team fouls four minutes in.
7:20pm: Game pace is definitely picking up- score’s 14-11 with 8 minutes gone, but the teams are really starting to run the transition. Pitt’s going small, but still not doing a great job on their rotations to the open shooter. Duke already has 6 team fouls, and hopefully this trend will continue.
7:30pm: Really sloppy play on both sides of the ball- lots of travels, missed shots, and fouls on both sides. Duke definitely with the upper hand so far, as Pitt has suffered an inability to get the ball to the basket. Down 19-13 but it could be a lot worse. Really just a bad game so far, we’re not playing like a top-10 team at all.
7:40pm: This is really just awful- we’re down 24-13, having only scored two points in the last seven minutes. It’s a very uninspired performance so far- nothing going on offense, no real energy on defense. I know that Pitt is a second-half team, but this is not going to work if we want to be successful in the Big East.
7:55pm: Halftime, Duke winning 34-22. This was one of the most un-energetic, un-inspired halves of basketball I’ve seen in a long time. There are a few things to work on: first of all, Duke can shoot the 3 very well. We need to stop double-teaming, leaving shooters open on the wing. If we can stay on our man, we’ll take away a lot of their open shots. I’m not going to post again unless some sort of comeback starts. Duke is a very good basketball team, but we are a top-10 program is well, and just not playing like it.
8:45pm: Well, with ten minutes left in the second half, Pitt’s finally made a bit of a comeback. We’ve been playing much better defense and playing more uptempo, energetic basketball. Down 6, Blair gets called for an awful intentional foul, but it was really just fighting under the basket between Blair and Singler. Blair’s got 12 points and 13 rebounds, and both teams are already in the bonus with 9 minutes left in the half.
9:16pm: Overtime! This has actually been an incredible game so far, Pitt came storming back in the second half and avoided a putback attempt by Singler as time expired in regulation.
9:36pm: Hail to Pitt! 65-64 in overtime- full recap later on tonight.
11:15pm: This was an incredible win for Pitt, but it could come with a great loss. Mike Cook went down hard in overtime, and from his inability to walk off the court, I would have to assume some sort of knee ligament injury. If it is a torn ACL or MCL, that’s his season (as well as, likely, his Pitt career). He could still get a medical redshirt, but we’ll have to see how that all unfolds. He did have his knee in a brace as he exited the stadium, so it doesn’t look good. However, tonight we really need to focus on the positives: Pitt went into a pro-Duke atmosphere, found themselves down 31-15 early on, yet rallied back and stayed tough through overtime despite losing Blair on fouls early in the extra period. Levance, Sam, and Dejuan really carried the team tonight, and winning games like this is what you need to go deep into the season. This bodes very well for games against Villanova and Marquette. Pitt does need to realize that they can’t keep double-teaming players if it means leaving shooters wide open on the wing, but I imagine that they’ll work on it in practice. Overall, I was again impressed by Pitt’s ability to come back in a hostile environment, but the first half still scares me. They need to be more than a great second-half team in order to be a truly top team in the country. If we can put together 40 minutes like we did in the last 25, we will really be a power in the Big East.