Blue Devils best Panthers, 81-54, for the second time in two weeks

First-year guard Parker Stewart (1) scored 11 points during Pitt’s 81-54 loss to Duke Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Visual Editor)

Pitt men’s basketball suffered a major loss to Duke for the second time in 10 days, this time losing 81-54 on the road and falling to 0-7 in the ACC.

The Panthers (8-12 overall, 0-7 ACC) committed 15 turnovers and made just four of their 16 three-point attempts while allowing four Blue Devils (17-2 overall, 5-2 ACC) to score 15 or more points. The result was a game score almost identical to Pitt’s previous match with Duke, in which the Panthers fell 87-52.

Similarly to the first game, the Panthers struggled out of the gate. The Blue Devils hopped out to a 7-0 advantage after three minutes of action.

Unlike last game, however, the Panthers kept the game competitive through the first 10 minutes. Pitt trailed by six points, 21-15, midway through the first half thanks to a hot start (3 for 5) from beyond the three-point line.

But Pitt would once again succumbed to one of its consistent weaknesses: turnovers. The Panthers coughed up the ball a whopping seven times over the next five minutes, allowing a 17-2 Duke run that gave the Blue Devils a decisive 38-17 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.

The Panthers responded with a 9-0 run that cut Duke’s lead to 38-26. But Pitt went ice cold and failed to score a single point for the last five minutes of the first half, while Duke mounted a 10-0 run to build up a 48-26 halftime lead.

The halftime deficit almost exactly mirrored that from the team’s Jan. 10 matchup, in which the Panthers trailed 50-24.

At the break, first-year guard Parker Stewart led the Panthers with 11 points, followed by fellow first-year guard Marcus Carr with 10.

After baskets by Carr and Stewart to begin the second half, the Blue Devils once again began to impose their will. Duke went on a 14-0 run over the next five minutes — by the time Pitt senior guard Jonathan Milligan scored a layup with 10 minutes remaining, Pitt trailed 64-32.

While Duke continued to build up its lead, Milligan proved to be the Panthers’ lone offensive bright spot, scoring eight of Pitt’s next 12 points to make the score 71-42 with seven minutes left.

With the game well in hand, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski elected to pull most of his starters. The two teams traded baskets in junk time, with the final score being 81-54 in Duke’s favor.

Stewart finished as Pitt’s leading scorer with 15 points, while Carr followed up with 12 points of his own. For the Blue Devils, first-year big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III combined for 21 and 20 points, respectively.

While the loss marked an incremental improvement for Pitt since the two teams’ prior meeting, the Panthers still looked like a team struggling to find any sort of identity after losing senior forward Ryan Luther for the season.

Pitt’s next chance to break their losing streak — and come up with their first ACC win — will come Wednesday, Jan. 24 when the Panthers host NC State at the Petersen Events Center.

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