Pitt got off to a great start shooting the ball. In addition to not being able to keep up with their own pace, they couldn't find a way to slow down T.J. Warren, in a 74-67 loss to N.C. State.
Warren set a Petersen Events Center record with 41 points. He shot 16-22 from the field for the entire game. The rest of his team shot 10-33.
"He just got hot," Pitt forward Lamar Patterson said after the game.< /p>
"We didn't do the right things, and we got beat," forward Talib Zanna added.
After an 11-14 (78.6%) in the first ten minutes of the game, then shot 15-41 (36.6 %) for the final 30 minutes of the game.
In addition to Warren, Pitt was outrebounded 35-23, outscored 32-17 in the paint, 16-0 in second-chance points and had only two offensive rebounds for the entire game.
Pitt led early, getting out to a 10-8 lead. Patterson and Warren led the way with six points and seven points, respectively, in the first four and a half minutes.
Warren also scored nine of the Wolfpack's first 12 points. N.C. State tied the game at 12-12 on Warren's ninth point, a short jumper.
The Panthers got some breathing room, and eventually a big lead thanks to a couple of three-pointers from Newkirk and James Robinson. Patterson then added another long-range jumper, putting Pitt up 22-14 with 10:09 left in the half. N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried had to call timeout to regroup.
Pitt started off 11-14 (78.6%) from the field, which included 5-8 (62.5%) from three-point range. That fourth three-pointer came from Jamel Artis, who knocked one down from the baseline as time expired on the shot clock. That made it a 25-17 lead. Newkirk's second of the game made it a 28-17 lead, with 7:50 left in the first half. It was also the first double-digit lead of the game.
The shooting barrage continued for Pitt. Even though Warren answered with a couple more baskets, Newkirk's third three-pointer kept the Panthers with a double-digit lead, 31-21.
Dating back to Saturday's win over Notre Dame, Newkirk had hit five consecutive three-pointers--two shy of tying a school-record.
N.C. State hung around for awhile, starting off 6-14 (42.9%) from the field in the first nine minutes of the game, then going 2-8 (25 %) over the next eight minutes. Pitt was able to hold on to a double-digit lead thanks to its own shooting, while N.C. State struggled.
In the final three minutes of the half, the Wolfpack shot 3-7 (42.8%), battling back and making it a five-point game. Pitt had just two shot attempts in those final three minutes, both misses.
Though Warren led all scorers with 15 points in the half, it clearly wasn't enough to keep N.C. State the game. He needed some help, which came from Lennard Freeman. Freeman's two quick buckets cut Pitt's lead to five, 36-31, at halftime. it to a five-point deficit at the half, 36-31, shooting 3-7 (42.8%) from the field, while holding Pitt to no points on two misses shots.
It looked like the same thing that had plagued Pitt all year--long scoreless droughts. Pitt was getting lucky earlier in the game, hitting shots at the expiration of the shot clock. When they weren't able to convert at the end of the shot clock, N.C. State was able to answer.
"They got a little run at end of first half, wedidn't do job defensively," Patterson added.
Pitt returned to those scoring ways, being more aggressive to start the second half. The Panthers scored on their first three shots of the second half, which included Patterson splitting a pair of defenders with a bounce pass to Zanna, who finished with an easy layup. Patterson also hit his second three-pointer, giving Pitt a 43-34 lead.
However, Warren once again kept his team close, scoring eight of N.C. State's first 11 points. That included a pair of three-point plays. That's when Robinson was put on Warren. Robinson held Warren scoreless on two possessions, before he was able to sneak away and use Zanna as a screen. His third field goal of the half cut Pitt's lead to two, 44-42. He then tied the game at 44-44 on a scoop any score, with 14:27 left.
Warren gave his team it's first lead of the game, a short one-handed jumper. The Wolfpack led for the first time of the game, 48-46, with 12:54 left in the game. Warren with 27 of those first 48 points, 12 of the first 17 second-half points for his team.
And Warren wasn't done yet. After Dixon called timeout, to maybe slow things down, he added an uncontested three-pointer from up top. N.C. State extended its lead to 51-46, 11:32 left in the half. Warren, to this point, had converted 12-16 (75 %) of his shots. The rest of his team, 7-23 (30.4 %).
N.C. State battled back to regain the rebounding edge, and had more than a two-to-one advantage in points in the paint. Warren, however, was on a complete other level from the rest of his team. Not just that, whether it be matching up Patterson against Warren, Robinson against Warren, or an occasional double-team, Pitt didn't have an answer on defense.
Pitt got a couple points back--Patterson hitting 1-2 free throws, and later an easy bucket from Artis. Pitt cut the N.C. State lead to 51-49, approaching the halfway point of he second half.
Warren answered with his second three-pointer of the game, putting the Wolfpack back up by five, 54-49, approaching the 9:00 mark.
Newkirk answered with his fourth three-pointer of the game--sixth consecutive dating back to the last game. N.C. State's lead was at two once again, 54-52.
Then, N.C. State found a way to extend the lead, without the services of Warren. Turner and Freemand hit back-to-back three-pointers, giving N.C. State a 62-58 lead, now under seven minutes to play.
Then, Newkirk did it again. His fifth three-pointer of the game, and seventh in a row, cut it to 63-62, with 5:46 to play.
A three-pointer from Mike Young--contested well by Warren on the play--made it a 66-65 N.C. State lead, with 3:34 left.
Warren got it back for his team on the next possession, answering with a long-range three-pointer from up top. He put the Wolfpack back up by four, 69-65, the game now under three minutes.
Patterson was fouled on Pitt's next possession. He converted both shots, making it a two-point game again.
Pitt had a number of chances to make a play on the next defensive series. With the shot clock winding down, Warren missed a three-pointer. Turner came down with a long offensive rebound, with no one around him. His three-pointer missed. That loose ball was juggled by Pitt underneath, as the ball went out of bounds. Possession stayed with N.C. State, and ultimately in the hands of Warren. He added a short jumper to put the Wolfpack up 71-67, and just 1:30 left in the game.
And if that didn't clinch Warren added another bucket on a breakaway, giving him 41 for the game.
Simply put, Pitt couldn't keep up with the shooting pace they had in the first 17 minutes of the game. Eventually, they lose the edge in rebounding. Teams have found a way to beat N.C. State while doing one of those two things, even when Warren has a big game--which he has done a lot this year. Pitt, obviously, did not.
"We got what we deserve," head coach Jamie Dixon said.