Rozier’s 26 points push Louisville past Young, Pitt


A sell-out crowd resembling a sea of gold didn’t translate to great fortune for the Pitt men’s basketball team against a highly ranked opponent.

Facing No. 10 Louisville on Sunday afternoon during a “Gold Out” promotion at the Petersen Events Center, the Panthers contained and stayed with the visitors for much of the first half, despite Louisville’s historic hot shooting, handling their full-court pressure defense well. But the Panthers’ eventual self-imposed mistakes presented a breakthrough opportunity for the Cardinals, which they took, building a lead that remained for the rest of the game, as Pitt lost 80-68.

Louisville followed the lead of Cardinals’ point guard Terry Rozier early on, as the sophomore scored 11 of his team’s first 16 points and finished the half with 18, setting the tone for the rest of the guests’ success, according to Pitt forward Michael Young.

“They just took off from there,” Young, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, said.

In the opening period, Louisville (16-3, 4-2 ACC) shot a superb 70.8 percent as a unit from the field, converting 17-24 of its overall attempts and 4-5 from 3-point range.

The Cardinals’ end-of-game field goal percentage of 65.2 is the best a team — home or away — has shot in Petersen Events Center history and the best an opponent has ever performed against a Jamie Dixon-coached team.

Pitt guard James Robinson said one person’s shooting success becomes contagious. 

“Once you see the ball go in, you kind of get in that rhythm, and it spreads throughout the team,” Robinson said. “I guess thats kind of what happened.” 

Rozier finished with a game-high 26 points, his shots finding the bottom of the basket no matter how Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon tried to slow him.

“We played zone, and he got open looks in the zone. We played man, and he got some tough shots against the man,” Dixon said. “It wasn’t hard to figure out that he was a scorer — a big factor — and he just got going.”

A follow-up statement from Dixon about Rozier’s success also described his team’s defensive woes.

“Zone, man, press, guarded ball screens different ways, nothing seemed to be effective in what we did,” he said.

And yet despite that inability to stop the opposition’s offensive onslaught, Pitt (13-7, 3-4 ACC) kept the game close for the majority of the opening period, in part by winning the rebounding battle, 14-12. It shot 41.2 percent from the field, but just 2-9 from 3-point territory.

With 4:32 remaining before halftime, Louisville broke through, going on a 12-4 run to build a double-digit lead going into the break up 40-30.

During that same span, the Panthers went 2-6 from the field and committed three turnovers against the press.

“We started their run with us making mistakes,“ Young said.

The advantage reached double figures after just 2:30 had passed.

Needing to go on a run of their own to avoid the game getting away from them, the Panthers did so when play restarted, scoring five unanswered points and holding Louisville scoreless for the first five minutes. But the comeback stalled short of completion and the window of opportunity closed. The Cardinals went on to lead by as many as 18 before eventually securing their victory.

“We had a lot of opportunities to come back and bring the lead within the striking distance and make the game closer and give us a chance to win,” Young said. “I just don’t think we capitalized on a lot of the opportunities we had in the second half.”

As the game wound to a close, many of the 12,508-strong crowd streamed for the exits, not waiting or wanting to see the end result.

“It’s very disheartening to come up short in front of our fans like that,” Dixon said.

Jamel Artis led Pitt with 18 points, while Robinson and Chris Jones finished with 16 and 12, respectively.

Pitt plays again on Tuesday at Virginia Tech. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, and tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.