Pitt led No. 11 Louisville by eight points with nine minutes to play Wednesday and was poised to notch its first victory over a ranked opponent in the team's sixth try. Days after one of the best defensive performances of the season, the Panthers faltered on that end once again.
The Cardinals made their last nine shots of the game and
"At the end of the day we didn’t defend well enough again to get it done against a good team," Dixon said. "It’s not hard to figure out and we got it done the other day, but one day is not enough."
Pitt held Syracuse to 37 percent shooting in a victory Saturday but yielded a 51 percent clip to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals led for a total of 10:06 on Wednesday, while Pitt held an edge for more than 23 minutes, but used a 9-2 run in the game's final three minutes to win a contest that featured eight ties and nine lead changes.
Quentin Snider led Louisville (22-6, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 14 points. Damion Lee scored 13 points while forwards Deng Adel and Chinanu Onuaku chipped in 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We fight,” Lee said. “This team's been fighting all year long. From the beginning of the year until now. … We all just fight, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are.”
The Panthers led 48-40 with nine minutes to play but Lee hit a 3-pointer to spark the Cardinals. Louisville made nine consecutive shots to end the game and close out a hard-fought road victory.
Ryan Luther led Pittsburgh (19-8, 8-7 ACC) with 17 points off the bench. Jamel Artis scored 13 points, James Robinson added 12 points and Michael Young finished with 10.
A jumper by Artis and Luther's tip-in gave Pitt a 41-40 lead with 13 minutes left. The Panthers held Louisville scoreless for more than six minutes and opened up their largest lead at 48-40.
Lee made his second 3-pointer to end the Cardinals' 6:19 scoring drought and an 11-0 Pitt run with 8:29 left. A baseline drive and dunk by forward Deng Adel followed by guard David Levitch's 3-pointer tied it 48-48.
The teams combined to shoot perfectly from the field over a four-minute stretch and as they traded baskets, Pitt and Louisville were tied at 58 at the game's final media timeout with 2:51 to play.
Levitch made his second 3-pointer out of the timeout and Louisville never relinquished the lead, closing out a victory with a 9-2 run in the final three minutes.
“We’ve always got to play better defense,” Luther said. “They scored on nine of their last possessions so you can’t win many games when you give up the last nine buckets.”
Pitt started aggressively and made its first three shots to jump out to a 9-2 lead after three minutes. Louisville responded to make five shots in a row and held Pitt without a basket for nearly five minutes.
Guard Donovan Mitchell's transition floater at the 13:40 gave the Cardinals their first lead and came in the midst of a 12-1 run that put Louisville up 14-10.
Luther's 3-pointer broke a five-minute stretch in which Pitt went without a basket and sparked a run that put the Panthers back on top 20-16. Snider's 3-pointer with 56 seconds left in the first half regained the lead for Louisville, and the Cardinals were on top 33-29 at halftime.