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Five Takeaways: Offensive Cold Streak Leads to Sub-Par Defense in Pitt’s Loss to Florida State



PITTSBURGH — After earning back-to-back road wins, Jeff Capel’s Pitt Panthers dropped a disappointing loss to a banged-up Florida State squad on Saturday Afternoon at the Pete, 71-64.

Pitt came out hot, as Nelly Cummings, Federiko Federiko, and Greg Elliott opened the game with three makes and earned Pitt a comfortable, early lead in front of a loud home crowd. However, after building its lead to 17-11, Pitt completely fell apart for the rest of the half.

“I thought we got off to a really good start,” Capel said after the game. “I thought we had really good energy to start the game. The first five-and-a-half minutes. Then, we were not able to sustain it. From the 14-and-a-half-minute mark of the first half for the rest of that half, we didn’t play well. I thought we allowed our inability, during that stretch, our inability to make shots, I thought it affected our defense.”

The Seminoles went on a forceful 14-0 run to take over control of the game. After Jamarius Burton hit a jumper with more than 13 minutes left in the first frame, the Panthers hit just two of their next 17 shots, heading into halftime trailing 39-29.

“It’s frustrating, but the reality is, it’s good players in this league,” Burton continued. “For us, we can’t give them their shots, we have to stick to the scouting report and understand that there are some good players in this league. They made us pay.”

According to Evan Miyakawa’s ‘Kill Shot” statistic, 71% of the time that a team goes on a 10-0 run during the game, that team comes out with the victory. While Florida State’s kill-shot didn’t immediately sink the Panthers, it certainly plagued them with a big task for the second half.

In that second frame, Pitt pulled all the way back and even took a three-point lead, but couldn’t keep the same energy and build any sort of comfortable lead as FSU took home the ‘W.’

“I thought we got off to a really good start in the second half. We were able to close the game on a ten-point lead, and take a three-point lead. But again, we weren’t able to sustain that.”


Florida State entered this game with an abysmal 6-13 record but had started off alright in ACC play winning four of its eight conference matchups.

With the win over Pitt, the Seminoles earned their second-straight road conference win after taking down Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion earlier in the week. Although Pitt did struggle mightily late in the first half and at times in the second, it wasn’t all the Panthers bad. Florida State deserves respect for its performance as of late — including Saturday — and Capel says, its record really may be deceiving.

“They’re a lot better than their record,” Capel said about the Seminoles. “They had a lot of injuries to start the season, and they had a kid that’s very talented that was suspended. When you get prepared for a season, and as you get close to playing and you start having injuries to key guys, that can really mess you up. Now, it puts guys, and the guys that got hurt for them probably would have been starters or guys that played a lot of minutes. So there is an adjustment. Guys roles are different.”

Florida State looked to sniper Darin Green Jr., who hit 7 of his 12 field-goal attempts, including five of his eight three-point tries, en route to a team-high 24. Aside from Green’s stellar day, FSU earned solid offensive production from super sophomore Matthew Cleveland (11 points and eight rebounds) as well as Caleb Mills (11 points, seven rebounds, four assists). As a team, the ‘Noles shot an impressive 51% from the field and 50% from three-point range in the win.

“I think they’ve played very well in this league. Obviously, they came in 4-4, they just won on the road at Notre Dame, they’ve been competitive in just about every game, even the ones they’ve lost. So I do think they’re a very talented team.”


When Pitt was struggling and missing shots throughout Florida State’s big run in the first half, it seemed as though every possession was going down to the last seconds of the shot clock.

The Panthers couldn’t find any great looks during that span. It felt like isolation situations occurred every time down the floor, and when the shot doesn’t drop, those possessions look real ugly.

‘Energy behind the ball,’ as Burton put it earlier this year, has been so crucial to this Panther offense. After the game, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton explained why.

“They were executing their game plan much better than we were executing ours,” Hamilton said about Pitt. “In the first half, they would reverse the ball two or three times, and then, when people move the ball like that, the defense is always going to make a mistake. Somewhere, they’re going to make a mistake. I thought they took advantage of our lack of ability to sustain defensive positioning for the whole length of the shot clock.”

In the end, Pitt shot 43% from the field and hit just seven of its 28 three-point attempts as a team (25%). The Panthers held their own on the glass, grabbing 29 rebounds compared to FSU’s 27 despite the Seminoles’ length all over the floor.


Nelly Cummings hit just two of his 12 shot attempts in Pitt’s loss, as well as one of his eight three-point tries.

While his one three-point bucket did come at a huge time down the stretch, he had several open looks that would have been huge for the Panthers.

“I think he has played well, he just hasn’t made shots,” Capel said about Cummings’ recent performance. “That happens. I think he has distributed the basketball well; he’s gotten us into our stuff, I think he’s played well, I just think he hasn’t made shots, and that happens sometimes.”

Ever since the win at Syracuse in which he hit six of 11 three-point attempts; Cummings has made just six of his 33 three-point attempts (18%). When Cummings is shooting the ball well, the offense feels complete. If Pitt wants to bounce back from this loss, it will certainly want Cummings’ cold streak to come to an end.


Florida State’s Green took over this game from outside, doing what he does best: knock down threes from all over the court.

“He’s just a lethal player,” Pitt’s Burton said about Green. “He has the ability to knock it down and also put it on the floor. We just didn’t do a good enough job making him uncomfortable, understanding the scouting report at times. I remember him hitting a deep three in transition against me. I’ve got to do better in that instance. Getting up quicker, understanding the scouting report. But like I said, he got off to a hot start, he’s a very versatile player, and he made us pay today.”

Green finished the day with five threes and also went five for five from the free-throw line. The UCF transfer had four assists and grabbed two rebounds. He hit numerous clutch shots, including a dagger of a three pointer with 1:52 remaining to extend FSU’s lead to four. He also sank both of his free throws in the final 11 seconds, capping off the Seminoles’ victory.

“He’s a really good player,” Capel said about Green. “When guys get going and get into a rhythm, it can be very difficult to defend them. He shoots it with range, he knows how to move without the basketball, and as a really good shooter, he understands how to get open. There’s an art to that. Whether it’s reading screens, getting lost in transition, offensive rebounds getting lost, off of turnovers getting lost, he does a really good job of that. He hit some tough ones too.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
8 months ago

I’d have to re-watch the tape,,,,but did Pitt try more than 1 player to guard Green ? Pitt seems to play only 1 defense, so an opposing team never gets flustered or anything having to face a Zone Defense, or a Press or a trap. It’s just always Man defense for Pitt. And to be honest Pitt doesn’t have the greatest/quickest athletes to really matchup in a Man to Man against some of these players. And when you can’t matchup….you got to try something else. Pitt also runs the same offense thru Burton, 90% of the time. They run 1… Read more »

8 months ago

Florida State is a difficult matchup for Pitt. We were giving up size at every position except center. Cummings was inches shorter than any defender FSU had. During the 17-2 run, we were intimidated by their size. Burton tried mightily but faced two defenders every time he touched the ball. FSU let our weakest shooter free and Cummings didn’t come thru. The block on Hinson’s three point attempt was the breaking point. Hail to Pitt.

Eric Payne
Eric Payne
8 months ago
Reply to  Pittband

I am glad that you noticed the height advantage that they had. So did Clemson ,Vanderbilt and Duke. Noe having John Hugely is a real problem. Maybe Nate Santos and Jorge Diaz-Graham can help offset that advantage.

8 months ago

I have been saying!! Capel teams do not improve has season moves forward…. There’s a trend there

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