Panthers stifled at No. 1 Louisville, 64-46


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Xavier Johnson (1), pictured here against Robert Morris, led Pitt with eight assists against Canisius.

By Kyle Saxon, Staff Writer

Pitt men’s basketball traveled south to take on No. 1 Louisville Friday night. Though the Panthers came in with confidence and a five-game win streak, they left as just another victim to the Cardinals’ buzzsaw, scoring a season-low points total in the 64-46 loss. 

In Pitt’s second ACC contest of the young season, both teams came out of the gates firing. In what was expected to be a low-scoring affair the score was quickly tied 11-11. First-year point guard Xavier Johnson accounted for seven of these early points as each squad executed offensively and matched baskets.

For the rest of the first half, however, Louisville controlled the game. Its smothering pack-line defense, known to be one of the best in the country, stifled the Panthers’ early success. The Cardinals entered the halftime locker room with a 35-21 lead, shooting an even 50 percent from the floor. 

The second half would present an opportunity for the Panthers to claw their way back into the game, and they capitalized — at first.

Slowly but surely, Pitt strung together defensive stops and quality possessions. Senior center Eric Hamilton and sophomore wing Au’Diese Toney led the charge with their savvy defense and offensive intensity. A Johnson stepback jumper brought the Panthers within five points with roughly nine minutes remaining. 

Unfortunately for Pitt, its momentum would soon take a turn for the worse.

The scoreboard read 47-42 in favor of Louisville, and as Toney appeared to have cleanly stolen the ball from star forward Jordan Nwora, a foul was called. In frustration, the Panthers’ bench picked up a technical foul. 

Though this only resulted in two points for Louisville, it noticeably shifted the momentum and mood of the game. Pitt scored just four points in the last 8:44 of the game and ultimately fell 64-46.

Johnson led the Pitt attack with 15 points while Hamilton chipped in with 10 of his own. Toney rounded out the top producers with seven points and a team-high seven rebounds. 

Louisville didn’t rely solely on Nwora, though he did finish with a relatively quiet 19 points. The Cardinals shot 43% from 3-point range and simply executed better than the Panthers in every way during crunch time.

With the loss, Pitt falls to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in the ACC. Though the score reflects a blowout loss, Pitt can still take solace in the fact that it hung with the best team in America for long stretches. On the flip side, Louisville improves to 9-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC, and retains their No. 1 ranking. 

The Panthers will travel back home and face Northern Illinois for their next game on Dec. 16.

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