ACC Basketball

Cat leads Wolfpack over Panthers

(Photo by: Jerome Carpenter, WRAL Contributor)

Jamie Dixon’s past Pittsburgh teams have always been known for being tough, defensive teams. This year’s Pittsburgh team is not like those others. Too young and too small proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome as NC State easily ended Pittsburgh Big Dance dreams with a 81-70 victory.

Behind a stunning 34 points from Anthony “Cat” Barber and a tough 21 from Trevor Lacey (who rarely looked open, but still managed to hit 8-for-14 from the floor), the Wolfpack shook off another sluggish start to take a 10-point lead into half.

They expanded that margin to as much as 13, mostly because I’ve never seen a team (Pittsburgh) take so many long twos. The Panthers hit no threes in the game’s first 20 minutes and managed just one layup on a single transition bucket. How bad was it? At one point, Pittsburgh got a loose ball and had a 3-on-1 break, but Jamie Dixon accidentally called timeout, ending that little fast break.

In the second half, the Panthers got more aggressive. James Robinson passed the ball quickly up court, the team attacked the basket and the glass, plus they started to hit threes (5-for-11 in the second half). A a handful of occasions, Pittsburgh got the deficit down to seven or eight points, but they simply couldn’t stop the dynamic duo of Barber and Lacy.

For the game, NC State ended up hitting 53% from the floor, including 60.6% from two. While Ralston Turner struggled to get going (just four points, 0-for-5 from three), Barber made up for it with his best game of the season. He hit threes early, finishing with four (he had just 20 coming into the game) and once the Panthers were forced to respect Cat’s authority from deep, the quickest guy on the court penetrated to the hoop. He got to the free throw line 12 times and didn’t miss one.

Pittsburgh fell to 19-14 on the season and will have to go home and wait for that NIT invitation after dropping their final four games. NC State has now won five of six and will get a rematch against Duke Thursday night in primetime.


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