Pitt proves it can handle the heat
College Football Videos
Levance Fields had a super career at Pitt, but Louisville often proved to be his kryptonite -- especially at Petersen Events Center.
The Cardinals figured they could wear down Fields with unrelenting pressure. They tried getting into his head - sometimes successfully - to disrupt the Panthers' half-court sets.
On Saturday, Louisville coach Rick Pitino didn't deploy a full-court press until after the Panthers (15-2, 5-0) charged from behind in the final 54 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime, mostly because Pitt doesn't rely solely on point guard Ashton Gibbs to break the press.
Gibbs, who began the extra period with a 3-pointer that sent an already boisterous crowd into a frenzy, got plenty of help as the Panthers gutted out an 82-77 victory over the visiting Cardinals to remain unbeaten in the Big East.
The Panthers, overcoming 10 turnovers and three charging fouls in the first half, negated the Cardinals' press, largely because most everyone on the floor can handle the ball with care even when Louisville turned up the heat.
"Ashton is a poised point guard, and things don't get to him too much," said guard Jermaine Dixon who had nine points and six assists in the second half. "We're more versatile this year, especially because Gilbert (Brown) and Nasir (Robinson) are able to handle the ball.
"I can see why (Pitino) didn't press and decided to stay in the matchup zone. But I was surprised they didn't press us because they had a lot of success with it last year. I think they felt they could press Levance because they wanted to wear him down because we ran a lot of our sets through him."
Neither Dixon nor Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is ready to pronounce the Panthers are ahead of last year's team. But they're confident no one in the Big East can pressure or force them to abandon their style of play.
"We attacked it and got some layups out of it to start the game," said Jamie Dixon. "Our thought was to attack. Our turnovers were in the half court against the zone."
While Louisville lost for the first time in three games at Petersen Events Center, the Panthers will confront a different challenge at home Wednesday night against Georgetown (12-3, 3-2). The Hoyas, looking to snap a three-game losing streak to Pitt, prefer half-court traps and only token pressure.
The Hoyas, who lost, 82-77, to Villanova on Sunday, face an increasingly confident Pitt backcourt that caused Pitino to alter his defensive game plan.
"Last year, Louisville could beat us by slowing down Levance," Dixon said. "They kept saying that in the newspapers, but this time they were playing a totally different team. You can't slow down Ashton.
"We get pressed harder in practice than we do games. It's kind of easy for us now. Coach Dixon has some great schemes for breaking the press, and they worked well against Louisville."
It was the Cardinals who were flustered this time. Guards Edgar Sosa and forward Jared Swopshire were forced into turnovers and poor shot attempts.
Also, Pitt's pressure caused Louisville to abandon a reliable inside game. Center Samardo Samuels scored 25 points on 12 for 20 shooting but was shut out in overtime.
"We pressured the ball more and made them take more jump shots at the end," Dixon said. "We took them out of their game plan a little bit, and we knew if we could make Sosa have a tough game it would help our chances of winning."
That, of course, is a strategy that worked for Louisville against Pitt. Now, Sosa is feeling Fields' pain.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- With most starters resting, Steelers turn in lackluster loss at Heinz
- Truck hits teen cyclist, goes over Brighton Heights hillside
- Experts warn Kane’s Haiti trip might jeopardize any case from 2014 wiretap
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- West Jefferson Hills schools closed after bomb threat
- Steelers laud decision, praise Brady for taking on Goodell
- Vick supporters, opponents demonstrate before Steelers’ game, but coexist
- Liriano struggles as Brewers complete sweep of Pirates
- Steelers notebook: Thomas, Moats only starting defensive players to see action vs. Panthers
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Gorman: Friday night to be strange without Fedko