Pittsburgh Basketball had beaten the UNC Tar Heels twice last season en route to making the NCAA Tournament but this group is much better, coming into the matchup as a top-10 ranked team. Still, the Panthers locked them down early, up a few points after UNC missed its first 10 shots of the game.
Unfortunately, Pitt's offense never got into gear. And after RJ Davis made a 3-pointer at the buzz to take the halftime lead, the Panthers remained behind the rest of the way, falling 70-57 to remain winless in ACC play. Here are some takeaways from the latest defeat for the Panthers.
1. Blake Hinson's costly shooting regression
Hinson had an electric start to the season, averaging over 20 ppg on 47% shooting through 11 games. It was expected that the senior forward's shooting splits would take a dip but the past three games have been rough. After going for 11 pts on 4/16 from the field, Hinson now has made just 3 of the last 22 shots from deep. As he struggles, the team will too.
2. Not enough offense elsewhere
On the night, Pittsburgh Basketball shot just 31% from the field and 5/29 from three-point range. We talked about Hinson's struggles but just as bad offensively was Ishmael Leggett, who after making his first two mid-range shots, missed the last six attempts for the rest of the night. With Zach Austin and William Jeffress combining for zero points again, Carrington's 20 was the only reason why the team got over the 50-point mark this game.
3. Jaland Lowe's best game yet
If there's one player whose stock has gone up, it's Lowe. The freshman guard had 10 pts on 4/8 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench, which is a season-high in terms of being on the court. The most notable thing was him playing alongside both Carrington and Leggett, to make sure that the 3-spot wasn't a black hole offensively. Whenever Hinson is struggling or Federiko is on the court, we could see some three-guard lineups more going forward.
4. Centers with a good game for 35 minutes
I wanted to give a shoutout to the center duo of Federiko Federiko and Guillermo Diaz-Graham for their defense on Armando Bacot. The Tar Heel big man did end up with 16 pts and 10 rebs but was limited to the first half with 6 pts and 4 rebs when the game was close. Both bigs did well against him and avoided foul trouble but when none of the shots are falling, it ultimately didn't matter. But their play was a bright spot overall.
5. Road game with Louisville now "must win"
Pittsburgh Basketball is now 9-5 overall and 0-3 in ACC play, putting them in last place in the standings. In January, their resume now needs to be taken seriously in that they still don't have a good win to this point. But at least they don''t have a bad loss.
That could change on Saturday, where they take on Louisville on the road. The Cardinals are still bad and Coach Kenny Payne is on the hottest of seats. Even still, league play can be difficult and the Panthers haven't looked good as of late. If the shooting woes continue, they could be in danger of suffering a fatal loss this weekend.