The Florida Gators outlasted the Pitt Panthers to earn a 61-45 victory. This win punches Florida the tournament’s first ticket to the Sweet 16. For Pitt, this defeat marks the end of their season.
This Pitt basketball team hung tough with the Gators for most of the game but were ultimately unable to persevere over an extremely talented Florida team. Florida was led by SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin who recorded 21 points.
The Panthers sloppiness with the ball is what ultimately led to their loss. The Panthers surrendered an uncharacteristically high 11 turnovers, most of which Florida was able to score on. The Pitt defense was physical and created some trouble for the Gators but Scottie Wilbekin proved to be too much. Wilbekin scored on an array of acrobatic drives to the basket and simply could not be stopped.
Pitt scored 46 points in the first half versus Colorado on Thursday but only scored 45 points total today. In scoring 45 points, senior Talib Zanna was the only Panther to score in double figures with 10 points. Cameron Wright and Lamar Patterson struggled all game and it was certainly noticeable.
Florida scored 16 points off of turnovers which was indeed the Gators’ margin of victory. Pitt usually forces a high amount of turnovers, but the Gators only surrendered the ball once in the second half. Their lone turnover was a shot clock violation as they were running out the clock out to end the game.
The most troubling part of today’s game was how awful sophomore guard James Robinson looked today. Robinson matched up with Scottie Wilbekin and was absolutely eaten alive. Robinson scored one point off of a free throw and was a combined 0-8 in shooting from the field. Robinson is the quarterback of this offense and will continue to be for the next two seasons, but if Pitt ever wants to succeed in the postseason, Robinson will need to perform on the big stage.
This Pitt basketball team should be proud of themselves. In what can only be described as a roller coaster season. This team overcame injuries and survived a tough conference schedule to earn a trip to the ACC tournament semifinals. The Panthers were able to earn a nine seed in the tournament and earn their first victory over a team seeded higher than them since 1981.
The seniors on this team were true leaders and for the most part led by example. After a senior night loss to NC State on March 2, a visibly upset Talib Zanna assured the media and fans that he would step his game up. Zanna did just that and proved to be a dominant inside force in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Zanna and Patterson left their mark on this program and showed more end-of-the-season fight than previous Panthers’ senior classes have shown. Both seniors will be missed, but if you are a Pitt fan you have to be happy about the future. The Panthers are a young and talented team and will surely be back and better next season.