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ROCK BOTTOM: No. 13 Louisville crushes Pitt 106-51

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No. 13 Louisville stomped Pitt 106-51. The 55-point victory was the largest in any ACC game in 52 years.

PITTSBURGH - Every team wants recognition for its place in the history books.

But not every record is worth mentioning in literature.

In its worst loss in the Petersen Events Center era, and the second worst loss in the history of a Pitt basketball program that dates back to 1905, it was the 2017 Panthers that woke up those echoes losing in a humiliating 106-51 fashion to Louisville Tuesday night.

Only a 93-point loss to Westminster in 1906 can compare to Tuesday night’s 55-point loss.  The next closest came during Lyndon B. Johnson’s first years in office when Pitt fell to Wichita State 109-58 on Dec. 26, 1964.

Pitt (12-8, 1-6) gave up Petersen Event Center-era (2002-03) records in allowed points (109), shooting (25.5%) and 3-point FG (13.6%)

Louisville (17-4, 5-3), who has beaten Pitt 10-straight times and 6 of 7 at Petersen Events Center, became the first to win and score 100 points in regulation on a Pitt team since a 106-93 loss to North Carolina on Dec. 23, 1993 at the former Civic Arena.

Michael Young was the only Panther to score in double figures, netting 12 points on 2 of 9 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.  As a team Pitt shot just 13 of 51 from the field, including an unbelievably dismal 4 of 25 (16%) in the first half.

“It’s about as disappointing a performance as I could possibly imagine,” said Coach Kevin Stallings.  “A lot of things I could say, a lot of things I would like to say, but suffice to be that this is embarrassing, it’s unacceptable.  It’s my responsibility to have them play better than that, smarter than that and we weren’t.  At the end of the day it’s my responsibility.  I don’t know what short term options I have available to me, but from a long-term standpoint there will be options and we will get some things rectified.”

The disgruntled Stallings was ejected from the game after receiving a double-technical early in the 2nd half.

“The one thing this team has shown is the inability to deal with adversity,” continued Stallings.  “Since Ryan (Luther) went down with the injury and since Mike has been less than he was earlier in the season, there almost seems to be a feeling of, I’m not sure what word I want to use to describe it, amongst the players.  I quite frankly don’t understand that.  I don’t understand how you don’t dig in and compete harder.  Not having Ryan Luther shouldn’t have caused this much of a drop off.  I think there’s some fragmentation in the locker room, unfortunately.  I don’t feel any of it towards the coaching staff, but you get tough lessons if you’re not prepared to do the best that you can do every time you take on a challenge.”

The Cardinals, who shot 39 of 67 from the field, had four players in double-figures, led by 29 points from guard Donovan Mitchell, who went 9 of 13 from the field.

Louisville outrebounded the Panthers 48-26, outscored them 52-12 in the paint and scored 22 points off of 13 Pitt turnovers including an astounding stat where Pitt turned the ball over eight times and Louisville scored 16 points, or every turnover in the first half.

“It’s one of those nights I’ve experienced in pro basketball where everything goes right for one team and everything goes wrong for one team,” said a consoling Louisville coach Rick Pitino.  “It doesn’t happen often in college, but it happens in the pros.”

“When you hold a team to 16 percent shooting and hold them to just five 2nd chance shots, that doesn’t happen too often,” the coach continued.  “I’m real proud of our effort and I feel really bad for Pitt.  It’s one of those nights I’ve been through in the pros.”

Pitino then reminisced about some of his ups and downs as an NBA basketball coach, including a win in November 1997 over the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls when coach of the Boston Celtics.

“We beat the Chicago Bulls one time on opening night of the season, it was one of those nights where we had it going for us,” he said.  “I remember Michael Jordan said we’re getting them again in two weeks, and they kicked our asses then.”

The Panthers played 10 guys for 10 or more minutes, getting 8 points from Chris Jones, 7 points from Damon Wilson and a 9-point, 3 of 11 from the field performance from Jamel Artis who showered 43-points on the Cardinals in Louisville just two weeks ago.

“Coaching seniors can be really good and it can be really tough,” Stallings said.  “It doesn’t matter if you inherit seniors for one year or had them for four years.  Things are always delicate with seniors because sometimes guys realize that they are not going to play basketball, that they’re not going to be a pro.  So where does their investment go from there?  It’s an interesting group, a group that at times I have had a hard time understanding.”

Where do we go from here?
“I don’t know,” said Stallings when asked after the game if this could be fixed.  “It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good right now and it won’t change if the guys wearing the uniforms don’t want to change it.”

Pitino had more encouraging words in his assessment of the Panthers.

“Pitt has got to do the same thing right now.  They have to just say, hey we have to get it done now.

“I’ve coached against Kevin quite often,” Pitino continued.  “It’s a transition period.  Earlier in the season they were playing great and sometimes the coaches don’t have an answer for when it gets like this.  Coaches can give all the speeches they want but the players have to want to do it.  It’s all about digging in and picking themselves up.  It’s not indicative of tonight, but Kevin is as good a coach as there is in the game.  They can win a lot of games still this year.”

Getting technical
Stallings peeled back the layers a bit when discussing his technical foul and then being thrown out when referee Les Jones seconds later hit him with a double technical and disqualifying the coach.

“I’ve spent so long in the SEC I’m pretty well versed on league policy there, and I don’t know what league policy is here so I better refrain from saying too much around here, the coach said.”

After the Spread
Most certainly no Vegas handicapper was liquored up enough to land Pitt as a 55-point home underdog, but they were catching 4.5 points at most books, with the line opening at +7 Tuesday morning.  Pitt is now 6-11-1 against the spread this year. 

The over/under which was set at 144 points went over thanks in large part to Louisville’s 106 scored. 

Up Next
Things can only get better for Pitt, who will host a struggling Clemson squad on Saturday, Jan. 28.  The Tigers have lost its last six games in a row since starting the season 11-2.  Tipoff is set for noon.

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