From Jamarius Burton’s exploits to the team’s all-out effort it took to defeat a ranked opponent, here’s what stood out in Pitt’s victory over No. 20 Miami on Saturday.
You know the saying:
Big players play big amounts in big games.
The game was Pitt’s takedown of No. 20 Miami on Saturday. The plays were basically everything in the last two minutes. And the player was Jamarius Burton.
Pitt’s senior guard and leader nearly posted a triple-double, with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists – his second career double-double and the second he had in the last four games – but his play in the closing minutes and his role in Pitt’s 11-0 run to win the game cannot be overstated. Although Burton didn’t score a point as the Panthers turned a 68-60 deficit in a 71-68 win, he had two defensive rebounds and two steals in those final two minutes, and he did it in consecutive order.
He grabbed a defensive rebound after Miami missed Federiko’s next chance Federiko and -1, cutting the lead to six. Then he had another on a miss in Miami that came after Blake Hinson hit a three. Nelly Cummings scored on that rebound, and the Burton made a steal on a poor pass from Isaiah Wong; he did not complete the fast break, but Hinson did to make it a one-point game.
Then, with the game on the line and less than 20 seconds to play, Burton stared at Wong in a one-on-one situation, and when the Miami guard drove up and tried to shoot, Burton strong-armed the ball from him away for a bargain.
Single-handedly, Burton ended four consecutive possessions in Miami, and each of those plays was critical to the comeback.
The comeback of team effort
Of course it wasn’t just Burton who led Pitt to victory on Saturday. As mentioned above, he didn’t even score during the 11-0 run that ended the game and secured the win. Admittedly, he made a lot of plays during that run, but the runs came from Federiko (2), Hinson (5), Cummings (2) and Greg Elliott (2).
And really, that run was the highlight of the comeback; those players did a hell of a lot throughout the second half to keep the Panthers in the game against a pretty powerful Miami offense.
The Hurricanes led 11 at several points in the second half, but each time Pitt got a basket to never let the lead widen. When Miami went up 41-30 early in the half, Cummings answered with his first basket of the game (a two-point jumper). With the Hurricanes leading 51-40, Burton sank two free throws to cut it to single digits. He also hit a three-point shot several possessions later after Miami went ahead again by 11 at 53-42.
And after those three, Pitt prevented the Hurricanes from making consecutive baskets for the next nine minutes, eventually flipping them to cut the lead to four at the under-four media timeout.
Whether it was Burton or Cummings driving, Hinson or Elliott hitting threes or Federiko grabbing offensive rebounds – he had three in the second half, including a key offensive board he kicked to Elliott for a three that cut the lead to four – Pitt got what it needed from his top five contributors.
Pitt’s place in the ACC
With the win over Miami, Pitt moved up to third in the ACC, and the Panthers are not far from second.
Clemson currently leads the conference after Saturday’s games with a 10-1 point in league games. Behind the Tigers are the Virginia Cavaliers, who are 8-2 in ACC games. Next comes Pitt and his 8-3 record; in theory, the Panthers are half a game behind Virginia, but in reality it’s closer to a full game or two since the Cavs beat Pitt.
But with nine games left in the regular season, the Panthers are firmly in the thick of things. They play North Carolina on Wednesday night (15-6 overall, 7-4 ACC) and then have a break until the following Tuesday when they host Louisville (2-19, 0-10), whom they beat by 20 at the two weeks ago. away on.
Road trips to Florida State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Miami and home games against Boston College, Georgia Tech and Syracuse await. The road games at UNC, FSU and Miami stand out as the toughest road challenges ahead, but Pitt has successfully completed the first half of the ACC schedule plus one game and the Panthers have emerged as one of the top teams in the world. the competition.
The scent of legitimacy is getting stronger, and while the Panthers will always be vulnerable to an off shooting night, they are also quite capable of holding their own in most games against most opponents – which was certainly the case in arguably their best win of the season.