Friday, December 21, 2007

About Last Night...Pitt vs Duke

I managed to catch about 70% of the Pittsburgh - Duke game last night. As bad as Pitt appeared to be in the first half they were great in the second half. If I have time to do a half breakdown (assuming Hoya Prospectus has not done it already...) later I will go ahead and post. I watched most of the second half and OT period however and knew I would breakdown the gamelog when it was published. The Panthers stormed back from a half time deficit of 12 points to take the lead and eventually settle for a tie to go to OT. A Panther fan described it as a "rock fight", and he was not far off. I counted 32 possessions for Duke and 31 for Pitt -- Duke began and ended the half in possession of the ball. Extrapolated over 2 halves that would have paced the game at 63.5 possessions, far lower than Duke, who had a raw pace of 73.9 going in had played this season (about a 14.1% reduction in possessions). The difference for Pittsburgh was also evident, but not as significant, as Pitt went in with a raw pace of 66.8. Since Duke scored 24 points in the second half, that means their offensive rating was 75.0. Great even by Pitt's high standards. The Panthers by contrast were able to climb out of that 12 point hole they put themselves into in the first half. They had a 116.1 offensive rating for the second half. Terrific work by DaJuan Blair, an under the radar freshman who grabbed 20 rebounds to go with 15 points before he fouled out in the OT period and Levance Fields, Pitt's point guard who posted 21 for the night, 12 in the second half and overtime. He hit the 3 pointer with less than 5 seconds remaining in overtime to take the lead away from the Blue Devils for good.

The one very sad note on Pittsburgh's win was the injury to wing Mike Cook. It happened in the opening moments of the OT period. By all reports Cook is done for the year, and since he is a senior, most probably his career at Pittsburgh. Combining the injury loss of Cook with Blair's fifth foul (occurred about a minute later), Pitt's ability as a team to play through speaks volumes about the players and the staff.

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