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Pitt

Miami's 67-63 victory further damages Pitt's NCAA Tourney hopes

| Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 10:18 p.m.
Miami's Ja'quan Newton drives to the basket past Pitt's James Robinson in the second half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Ja'quan Newton drives to the basket past Pitt's James Robinson in the second half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Sheldon Jeter grabs a rebound between Miami's Tnye Jekiri (23) and Davon Reed in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt's Sheldon Jeter grabs a rebound between Miami's Tnye Jekiri (23) and Davon Reed in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Miami's Davon Reed (left) drives to the basket past Pitt's James Robinson in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Davon Reed (left) drives to the basket past Pitt's James Robinson in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Michael Young scores past Miami's Omar Sherman in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt's Michael Young scores past Miami's Omar Sherman in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Miami's Davon Reed dunks against Pitt in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Davon Reed dunks against Pitt in the first half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Cameron Wright scores past Miami's Joe Thomas in the first half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt's Cameron Wright scores past Miami's Joe Thomas in the first half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Sheldon Jeter gets a steal on an inbounds pass against Miami late in the second half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt's Sheldon Jeter gets a steal on an inbounds pass against Miami late in the second half on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Miami's Davon Reed dunks against Pitt in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Davon Reed dunks against Pitt in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at Petersen Events Center.
Miami's Tonye Jekiri beats Pitt's Aron Phillips-Nwankwo to a rebound in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Tonye Jekiri beats Pitt's Aron Phillips-Nwankwo to a rebound in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon looks on during a game against Miami on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon looks on during a game against Miami on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Miami's Sheldon McClellan (10) and Tonye Jekiri defend on Pitt's Michael Young in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Miami's Sheldon McClellan (10) and Tonye Jekiri defend on Pitt's Michael Young in the second half Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.

It was another white-knuckle struggle for the Pitt men's basketball team Wednesday night.

The Panthers, who have played more than their share of close games, suffered a 67-63 loss against Miami before an announced crowd of 10,549 at Petersen Events Center.

The Panthers have lost two consecutive games by a total of seven points.

“Two times in a row. Disappointing losses,” said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, referring to Sunday's road loss against Wake Forest and a setback in the final regular-season home game. “A home loss can't happen.”

“We let another one get away,” said Pitt sophomore Michael Young, who scored a game-high 22 points.

The loss potentially was devastating for the Panthers, who are 19-12 and 8-9 in the ACC with one regular-season game to play: Saturday at Florida State.

Sheldon McClellan led Miami (19-11, 9-8) with 20 points. Teammate Davon Reed added 19 points.

Miami outscored Pitt, 38-30, in the second half. The Hurricanes shot 13 for 15 from the free-throw line after halftime.

Pitt lost despite outshooting Miami from the field (46.3 percent to 42.6 percent). The Hurricanes, made eight more free throws.

“They were able to get to the free-throw line. They were just driving on us,” said Pitt senior Cameron Wright, who had 11 points and five assists. “And they made their free throws.”

Wednesday's game was important for Pitt and Miami, who are considered bubble teams for the NCAA Tournament. Both teams also need to win some games at next week's ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Pitt never was able to gain control.

The Panthers led 33-29 at halftime behind Young's 16 points.

Pitt took a 47-43 lead, but Miami scored two quick baskets for the tie.

Back and forth it went. Miami led 51-49, but Young fed Sheldon Jeter with a slick pass between defenders for a layup.

A four-point deficit in a low-scoring game like this one put added pressure on the Panthers to keep pace.

Young, who recorded his third consecutive 20-point game, answered with a jumper.

Miami made it 53-51 and added two free throws for a 57-53 lead.

Just when it was beginning to look bleak for the Panthers, sophomore Jamel Artis (14 points) made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. McClellan answered with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 60-56.

Young scored inside to make it 60-58, but McClellan scored again with 1:18 to play.

The Panthers had a chance to tie after coming up with a loose ball, but Artis' 3-point attempt missed long.

Deandre Burnett hit both of his free throws to make it 66-61. Following a James Robinson layup, McClellan hit 1 of 2 free throws to account for the final score.

“Both teams are trying to get to the (NCAA) Tournament. Both teams came out with intensity,” Young said. “We knew we had to win our last two games. This is a tough one to swallow.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jharris@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jharris_trib.

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