Pitt's Kevin Stallings searches for answers after lopsided loss to Georgia Tech
Coach Kevin Stallings' video study of Pitt's 69-54 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday will go far beyond the routine examination of shot selection, ball care and defensive positioning — all of which were far short of where they need to be.
After a fifth consecutive ACC loss by double-digit points (total: 104), Stallings said he will take a second and probably third look at the game to determine the answer to several dilemmas.
• Why Pitt (8-10, 0-5 ACC) was outscored, 13-0 and 21-1, to start the game, all but deciding the outcome in the first seven minutes. In all, there were three scoring droughts totaling about 19 minuites. Stallings didn't need to be reminded Pitt also fell behind, 10-0, against Duke on Wednesday.
• Why Georgia Tech made 11 of its first 13 shots.
• Why Pitt has topped the 50s in points scored in just one of five conference games.
• Why Stallings left the court wondering if his young team has hit a wall in terms of playing with the proper intensity for 40 minutes.
That might be the toughest question to answer.
"There haven't been very many times this year where I felt like I would call into question our intent or our effort," he said. "The way we started the game — and I'll have to go back and look at it — it just didn't feel like that was our normal way that we come out and try to attack a game.
"I have to see, A, if that is right, and B, what has to be done to adjust it."
Graduate senior Monty Boykins admitted, "They fought a little bit harder than us at the beginning. We could have done a little bit better off the jump to set the tone."
Stallings has tried several tactics to put Pitt into position to beat a good team.
• He's yo-yoed junior Jared Wilson-Frame in and out of the starting lineup. Wilson-Frame started Saturday, scored nine points in the first half, but none after intermission. Still, he shared team scoring honors with Shamiel Stevenson and Boykins.
• While trying to compensate for the season-ending injury to senior Ryan Luther, Stallings has used 13 different starting lineups. Elevan players were in at least seven minutes against Georgia Tech.
• He went to a three-quarter court press that briefly befuddled the Yellow Jackets (10-7, 3-1), but never brought the deficit into single digits in the second half.
• He benched all five starters during Georgia Tech's 21-1 run in the first half. Their return ignited a Pitt rally resulting in a 24-11 edge over 10 minutes, but when Wilson-Frame had an open 3 that would have cut the lead to four, he missed.
"I'm a little more disappointed (Saturday) than I have been," Stallings said. "I didn't think we came out of the gate the way we needed to do in order to compete to win.
"The last couple of games we've started slowly, but this one was little harder to take for me."
Each half followed similar scripts, with Pitt unable to match Georgia Tech's physicality and shot-making. For the game, the Yellow Jackets shot 47.3 percent from the field and nearly doubled Pitt's rebounding total (39-20).
But Pitt kept fighting — that's why Stallings wants to re-examine the video — and prevented the game from devolving into a rout.
In the second half, Boykins came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers in 35 seconds. But then, he missed two others four seconds apart, and Georgia Tech seized control again.
If Pitt isn't ready to meet the demands of the ACC, Stallings shoulders blame for that.
"I'm responsible for having them ready to play," he said.
There was a perception that Georgia Tech, because it's unranked, might have been one of Pitt's more beatable opponents.
Stallings couldn't be led down that path, but he admitted, "There are games you look at and you say, 'OK, we might not be at as much of a talent disadvantage or experience disadvantage,' " he said. "But (Georgia Tech) is really good defensively, and they played very well offensively in the first half."
With its challenges on offense, Pitt is not equipped to spot any team a 20-point advantage.
"We can't play any stretch of the game like that and have a chance to win any of these games. We're just not set up that way."
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.