Jan. 04, 2017
PITTSBURGH (AP) The ball went up. Then it went in. And in the Pittsburgh huddle there was an all-too-familiar feeling, the kind that comes when you let a ranked team off the deck and back in the game.
Only this time, the Panthers responded. Emphatically.
Pitt shook off a deep 3-pointer by Virginia’s London Perrantes that forced overtime on Wednesday night, overwhelming the 11th-ranked Cavaliers in the extra session for an 88-76 victory.
Four days after losing on a last-second 3 to Notre Dame , the Panthers avoided an 0-2 start in ACC play by recovering from Perrantes’ 25-footer with 2.4 seconds left that tied it at 70.
”It seemed to be the same old story, and we flipped the script,” Pitt forward Sheldon Jeter said.
Jeter poured in 16 points – including consecutive 3s to open overtime – and Jamel Artis added a 3 of his own during a 9-0 burst that gave the Panthers (12-3, 1-1) momentum for good. Michael Young scored 19 for Pitt, and Cameron Johnson chipped in 16.
Artis finished with 24 points and the Panthers made 13 of 21 3-pointers and shot 29 of 53 (54 percent) from the floor. Virginia began the night second in the country in field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 35 percent.
”We got lost a lot defensively,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. ”We didn’t keep the ball in front. We didn’t keep them off the glass.”
Pitt outrebounded the Cavaliers 42-24 and used 12 offensive boards to pile up 21 second-chance points as Bennett’s decision to go with a four-guard lineup hoping to spread out the longer Panthers failed to pan out even after Perrantes’ heave.
”I felt like we were rolling,” Perrantes said. ”Obviously, we fought our way back. I guess we used most of our energy to get to that point and then didn’t have any left. But I don’t think that’s the case. We had a lot of miscommunication that let them get nine straight points.”
Perrantes led the Cavaliers (11-3, 1-2) with 16 points. Devon Hall added 15 and Marial Shayok 14, but Virginia was no match for Pitt in overtime. The Cavaliers have lost two straight for the first time since early last January.
Pitt led for most of the second half and appeared set to pick up the first signature win of coach Kevin Stallings’ tenure when Young hit a jumper with 1:10 to go and a defensive stop gave the Panthers the ball with 39 seconds left in regulation.
Virginia opted not to foul, and relied on its defense instead. Young missed and the Cavaliers got the ball to Perrantes. The junior then pulled up from the right wing and drilled a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left before the Panthers had a chance to foul him instead.
”I don’t really consider that a breakdown,” Stallings said. ”That was a great play.”
One that didn’t derail Pitt.
WHERE’S THE D?
Virginia’s defense has been its hallmark during the program’s renaissance under Bennett. Not so much lately. The Cavaliers gave up 37 points to Florida State in the second half Saturday in a 60-58 loss to the Seminoles and appeared no sharper against the Panthers. Pitt’s 88 points were the most the Cavaliers have allowed since North Carolina put up 93 on Feb. 16, 2013.
”Defense isn’t something we can rest on. We’ve played good defense,” Bennett said. ”There were some big holes tonight that we can’t afford against a team of this caliber.”
With three of the next four on the road in perhaps the toughest conference in the country, Stallings admitted there was a sense of ”uh-oh” heading into the game.
”It felt sort of desperate,” Stallings said. ”You don’t want to start out 0-2 at home in this league.”
Virginia: The Cavaliers might be the most balanced team in the country, with eight players averaging between 5.9 and 9.9 points per game. Yet there’s little doubt Perrantes is the crunch-time guy.
Pittsburgh: Stallings has been critical of his team’s bench, saying the Panthers need more from the reserves if they want to be competitive in the ACC. Ryan Luther provided a significant spark, finishing with eight points and playing with the kind of confidence that could pay dividends down the road.
Virginia returns home to face Wake Forest on Sunday. The Cavaliers won the only meeting last season, pulling out a 72-71 victory on Darius Thompson’s banked 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Pittsburgh begins a two-game road trip with a visit to Syracuse on Saturday. The Panthers won all three games against the Orange last season.