Michigan scratches its way past Pitt at MSG
NEW YORK — There is no shame in losing to the No. 4 team in the country, but Pitt didn't like the way it happened.
Michigan simply pushed Pitt around under the basket in the second half, pulling away after the Panthers had led most of the night for a 67-62 victory.
"We feel like we let one get away," Pitt freshman point guard James Robinson. "We didn't rebound well enough and let them score too much in transition."
Michigan got the better of Pitt on the boards by a 37-26 margin. In the second half, Pitt was outrebounded, 18-5.
"That's something that doesn't happen," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "But it did. The rebounding really sticks out in this game."
Freshman Steven Adams endured a game to forget, failing to score a point while consistently being pushed around by the Michigan frontcourt.
"Everybody knows he's got to stay out of foul trouble," Dixon said. "That's what's hurt him the last two games. He'll be fine."
Lamar Patterson was a bright spot for Pitt, scoring a team-high 14 points after struggling with his shot early in the season.
"I would have preferred to miss 20 shots in a row and get the win," Patterson said. "We did a lot of things well but just didn't finish. This is a learning experience for us. This will make us better."
The first half produced a flashback to the early years of the Dixon era.
Pitt played tenacious defense — it was plenty physical, too, as the Panthers were called for 10 of the half's 14 fouls — and executed almost flawlessly on offense, consistently running the shot clock under 10 seconds before earning quality shots.
"We knew this wasn't going to be easy," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "And it wasn't. They played such good defense and did so many things well."
The Panthers, in fact, led by eight in the final minute before a foul on freshman point guard James Robinson and a J.J. Moore turnover led to four late Michigan points.
Still, the first half went well for Pitt. The Panthers controlled the tempo throughout, rarely letting Michigan's talented guards run in the open court.
"We knew they were a really good team and they showed it early on," Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr., said. "We had to turn it on in the second half. It wasn't easy."
Pitt's bench, such a factor in its first four games of the season, was again a force. Led by Dante Taylor and J.J. Moore, Pitt's reserves scored 17 of its first 27 points.
The second half saw Michigan attempt to hurry the pace, with star point guard Trey Burke finally finding some rhythm after a shaky first half. Also, Michigan went to a high-pressure zone that gave Pitt fits.
Michigan closed the Pitt lead to one with 14 minutes left, but a Moore 3-pointer put Pitt ahead by four.Still, the Wolverines weren't going away.
Two big shots from Glenn Robinson III again pulled Michigan within a bucket, as the second half reached its midway point.
Hardaway Jr. would later score on a driving layup with 9:20 remaining, pulling Michigan even at 44-44, and then gave the Wolverines the lead at the free throw line 56 seconds later.
When the Michigan 9-0 run was over, it had taken a 48-44 lead with 7:03 left, forcing Dixon to take a timeout.
"We just made some mistakes that were too much to come back from," Patterson said.
At one point, Hardaway Jr. and Robinson III scored 20 straight Michigan points, as the Wolverines extended their lead to nine.
However, Pitt made a late surge and Tray Woodall, quiet most of the night, drilled a 3-pointer with 30.6 seconds left to pull Pitt within three.
Robinson III hit two free throws to put Michigan ahead again by five, but James Robinson scored on three consecutive drives to pull Pitt within three in the final seconds. Michigan, though, never gave Pitt a chance to even the game.
Pitt will play Delaware at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden.