Pitt holds off High Point for second consecutive victory
Freshman point guard Marcus Carr didn't miss a shot Tuesday night in Pitt's 71-63 victory against High Point at Petersen Events Center.
All five of his shots from the field, including three-for-three from beyond the 3-point arc, landed just where he wanted them.
He was part of an incredible 16-for-16 effort from the foul line with Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan in the final 2 minutes, 22 seconds that gave Pitt (3-4) its first winning streak of the season (two games).
But when he was asked to evaluate his performance in front of a record-low, regular-season crowd of 2,399, the only statistic that mattered were his five turnovers.
“I'm not good enough,” said Carr, who led Pitt with 19 points. “I feel a lot of my turnovers sparked their offense. Scoring is all well and good, but I would rather have a better defensive game, zero turnovers and way more assists (he had only two) than have 19 points and five turnovers.”
Nonetheless, the clutch foul shooting helped Pitt avert an embarrassing loss to High Point, which came into the game with a 2-37 all-time record against ACC teams. The Panthers of High Point also played without injured starter Jahaad Proctor, who is averaging 18 points.
“I'm happy that we played not nearly as well as I thought we would play and are capable of playing and still lived to tell about it with a victory,” coach Kevin Stallings said.
Actually, Stallings was perplexed and pleased at the same time by his team that built a 12-point lead with 3:05 left in the first half but allowed High Point (2-4) to whittle it to 30-27 by intermission.
Then, Pitt asserted its strength at the start of the second half to build a nine-point lead but found itself trailing 47-44 with 9:06 left.
“We talked about how we can't play good for five minutes and then play bad a few minutes after,” Luther said. “We built a lead within the first four minutes and then at the end of the half we lost our drive and gave them life again.”
Pitt committed 22 turnovers, and High Point collected 11 steals. Stallings anticipated trouble, putting his team through six-on-five drills to prepare for High Point's defensive intensity.
“I thought the pressure, the way we play, could affect them,” High Point coach Scott Cherry said. “I didn't anticipate 22 turnovers and 11 steals.”
Said Carr: “Really just a lack of focus on our part.”
The turnovers were troublesome, but Stallings couldn't overlook that Pitt shot 55 percent from the field while holding High Point to 37.3. It also recorded a favorable assist-to-turnover ratio (14-22) that indicates patient offense and good shot selection.
“Marcus is hard on himself, but he gets 19 points on five shots (from the field) and grabs five rebounds,” Stallings said. “He did way more good things than he did bad, as did a lot of our guys.
“We just got to get a couple guys a little bit more engaged in how competitive the game is,” he said. “I think some of our lack of experience is showing up at times.
“So many of the turnovers were just unforced. So many of them were very, very unforced casual, lazy passes.
“It goes back to a couple guys not understanding the degree of intensity you have to play with in a Division I basketball game.”
Clearly, Luther, one of only two seniors, understands.
His stat line read 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and a steal in 34 minutes, but Stallings said, “There's more in there. I promise you there is.”
“He blocked some shots going down the stretch, which was really helpful and kind of unusual for us because we don't really block many.
“Ryan is just a really good player, smart and steady and tough.”