TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Pitt couldn’t hang with No. 8 Florida State on Tuesday, as the Seminoles pulled away in the second half for a 15-point victory over the Panthers.
But in the first half, and particularly early in the first half, the Panthers showed the ability to not just play with, but occasionally take the play to Florida State.
Pitt surged to a 10-5 lead in the game’s first five minutes and trailed by just five at the half, a first period that has been the opposite of the team’s recent trends on the road.
The Panthers have been prone to poor starts all season, but particularly when they’re away from the Petersen Events Center, they’ve had a hard time scoring to start games.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday, as they came flying out of the rack against the Seminoles.
After back-to-back games playing against teams that were on losing streaks, this time it was the Panthers on the backs of two straight defeats that used that as motivation.
“You’ve got to want it more,” Au’Diese Toney said. “You’ve got to want to win. … You’ve got to show up every game to get a win. It’s hard to win in this conference. They’re not going to hand it to you.”
Not that the Panthers needed any extra juice, but they knew they were going to get Florida State’s best effort after upsetting them earlier in the season.
“We felt like they marked this game,” Toney said. “This game was important [to them]. We had energy and intensity to start. We wanted to beat them a second time.”
The key now is maintaining that mindset for 40 minutes. Pitt ran out of gas against a deep, talented Florida State team. But they won’t face another opponent that good the rest of the season. If they want to stack some more wins before the ACC Tournament, getting and then maintaining a good start will go a long way.
“We didn’t play a full 40,” Terrell Brown said. “That’s all it is.”
It sounds like a simple concept, but consistency it’s something that’s eluded the Panthers all season. Getting off to a good start goes a long way.