I hate using this expression, but Saturday was indeed a tale of two halves.
“You can’t spot a good Pittsburgh team 13 points,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. “In the second half, guys came out and responded the right way and got in the game. We had the score tied twice, but we couldn’t get a stop in the end.”
With Shabazz Napier (shoulder) rendered ineffective, UConn dug itself a hole and couldn’t seal the deal when it finally tied the game, 55-55.
Pitt’s Tray Woodall hit a 3-pointer, and Ryan Boatright answered with a three-point play on the other end. Panthers freshman James Robinson drilled another longball on the ensuing possession, giving Pitt a 61-58 advantage with 3:43 left. UConn never got any closer.
The loss drops UConn to 12-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big East.
Some notables from Saturday:
*My column: Shabazz Napier wasn’t himself, and no one stepped up as the third scorer. It’s awfully tough to win when only two guys can put the ball in the hoop.
*DeAndre Daniels and Enosch Wolf combined to grab zero rebounds in 34 minutes. Meanwhile, Pitt’s Steven Adams pulled down nine in 20 minutes.
*UConn did not record a single blocked shot. More importantly, the Huskies were outrebounded, 38-27.
*Pitt is set to bolt for the ACC next year, which means Saturday will likely be the last Pitt/UConn clash for quite some time. Unless, of course, the Huskies eventually get an ACC invite.
“I know our AD and our President are going to get us in the right position,” Ollie said. “We believe in their leadership, and we’re going to be in the right spot — soon. Wherever that is, we’re going to have to go out and win conference championships. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
*Interesting stat: If you add points, rebounds and assists, Shabazz Napier was averaging a total of 29.5 over his past six games. Saturday, he had just 13 (eight points, three boards, two helpers). All but one of Napier’s field goal attempts were from 3-point range.
“I couldn’t dribble with my left hand,” Napier said. “…I’m usually able to take contact and get a shot up but I wasn’t able to dribble with my left hand.
*On the bright side: UConn has either tied or taken the lead after trailing by double-digits against Quinnipiac, New Mexico, Marquette and now Pittsburgh.