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NC State cruises to upset victory at Pitt

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Cat Barber poured in 31 points to lead the N.C. State Wolfpack to an easy 78-61 victory over Pitt on Tuesday. Jamel Artis had 16 points and 7 rebounds for the Panthers.

PITTSBURGH - NC State’s Barber also added 8 assists as the Wolfpack handed the Panthers their second loss in the ACC.

Michael Young added 14 points and 7 rebounds for Pitt.

The ACC has been littered with incomprehensible losses so far this season. Almost every team not named North Carolina has fallen victim to the perceived parity in one of college basketball’s best conferences. Pitt was the latest victim.

“I’ve been in the ACC five years, and I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the deepest 1-15 the league has been,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said.

To say the Panthers came out flat would be an insult to soft drinks and the surface of the very basketball court the teams played on Tuesday night.

The Panthers shot 25 percent in the first half, compared to NC State’s 55 percent, and were outrebounded 24-11. Pitt’s only lead came on the first basket of the game by Young.

“I thought first half was our best offensive and defensive half of basketball of the year,” Gottfried said. “Pitt’s a really, really good team.”

The only two categories Dixon’s squad led in at the half were bench points, with a narrow advantage of 7-5, and free throws.

All of these unfortunate stats add up to the worst home halftime deficit in the history of Pitt basketball.

“Obviously you can’t put yourself in that situation to be down 25 at the end of the first half,” Dixon said. “Certainly we didn’t do anything good today…We got what we deserved, based on our performance.”

In his weekly press conference, Dixon claimed that to have success against the Wolfpack, they would have to contain the quickness of Kat Barber and rebound effectively against the likes of post players BeeJay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu.

“They’re relentless…they don’t really look for their own shot, so when Cat puts up a shot, they put all their attention towards that,” Young said.

The Panthers did neither of those things, as Abu finished with a double-double and Barber knifed through Pitt’s defense while also creating opportunities for his teammates. Anya was hurt by foul trouble but was a force when in the game.

Pittsburgh native Maverick Rowan—who committed to Pitt while attending Lincoln Park before de-committing and moving to Florida—enjoyed a fruitful homecoming, finishing with 14 points on 5-11 shooting. Certainly not the best stat-line, but the former Pitt commit had a few “in your face” moments with the Oakland Zoo in the first half when the Wolfpack were extending their lead.

James Robinson was virtually nonexistent in the first half, going 0-6 from the floor. He finished with nine points on 3-12 shooting, all in the second half.

Barber put Robinson on skates with feline-like quickness, which marks the second consecutive game the opposition point guard had scored 31 points. Boston College’s Eli Carter scored 31 on Saturday, although that occurred in a game the Panthers won handily.

Pitt went on a 13-2 run midway through the second half to trim the lead to 14, but the end result was never in doubt, as the hole the Panthers dug themselves in the first half proved too deep to climb out of.

“We did some good things (to trim the lead), but eventually we just wore down,” Dixon said.

Despite an improvement in the second half, Pitt shot just 37 percent from the field and were outrebounded 46-30. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that the Wolfpack were able to dominate with only seven players seeing action.

The loss marks Pitt’s second in three games. Although they hold a 5-2 conference record, the toughest part of their ACC schedule remains in February, with four matchups against teams currently ranked in the top 25.

The Panthers return to action on Saturday at Florida State.

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