PITTSBURGH — It was a freezing cold night both inside and outside of the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday night.
In Pitt’s game against Missouri, as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge, the Panthers went ice cold late in the second half to surrender their second loss of the season, and first at home. Pitt failed to score for more than eight-straight minutes in the second-frame, all the way until Blake Hinson hit two-straight three pointers with less than three minutes to go.
However, Hinson’s late threes were not enough, as Missouri closed out the 71-64 win late Tuesday night.
In the beginning of the game, the two teams traded the lead back-and-forth throughout the first half, until Pitt turned seven-straight Missouri misses into an 8-0 run to take a 23-17 lead with over 7 minutes to go in the first. Ishmael Leggett provided early scoring for the Panthers, as well as Guillermo Diaz-Graham, who finished an and-one layup and added a tip-in dunk early on.
While Pitt shot a high percentage from the field in the first half (44%), the Panthers just could not get out and run due to Missouri’s suffocating defense. The Tigers forced six Panther turnovers and allowed just 23 field-goal attempts from the Panthers in the frame, taking a 38-35 lead into the half on the road.
In the second half, Bub Carrington continued his strong offensive night, hitting a step-back three in Noah Carter’s face to cut Missouri’s lead down to two. Shortly after, Leggett found Blake Hinson in transition for a breakaway two-handed slam to take the lead, 44-42, extending Pitt’s run to 7-0.
Dimes & Dunks 😤
📺 ESPNU pic.twitter.com/8mq7LEFeU3
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) November 29, 2023
However, Missouri was not going anywhere. The Tigers stuck together and held Pitt scoreless for the next three-plus minutes, going on an 8-0 run of their own and building up a six-point lead with 12 minutes to go.
Hinson responded with a three, cutting Missouri’s lead in half off a cross-court find from Carrington. But the Tigers, once again, tightened up the defense and went on another run. Pitt went on a 2-for-12 streak from the field from the 16-minute mark all the way down to the seven-minute mark, failing to gain much momentum offensively while the Tigers continued to convert timely buckets. Sean East II hit his third three of game with less than six minutes to go, extending his point total to 18 and bringing the Missouri lead into double digits.
Pitt cut into the lead with a pair of Federiko Federiko free throws, but on the ensuing possession, Missouri’s East threw an alley-oop up to a high-flying Aidan Shaw for a reverse slam, bringing the lead right back up to ten. Pitt, at this point, had gone seven minutes without a field goal when it needed to score most.
The Panthers finally snapped the streak with a three off the hands of Hinson with three minutes to go, trimming Missouri’s lead down to five. Then, with 2:25 remaining, Hinson doubled down.
The senior, Pitt’s leading scorer, drained a three pointer from the edge of the Pitt logo, cutting Missouri’s lead all the way down to two and igniting the Panther faithful in attendance.
In the final two minutes, Missouri earned big buckets from Caleb Grill and Connor Vanover, and the Panthers’ Leggett missed a wide-open attempt to cut the lead down to one with 40 seconds to go. Missouri closed out the win with free throws from East, sending the Panthers their second loss of the year.
Hinson finished as Pitt’s leading scorer with 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, while Carrington followed with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists.
For Missouri, East finished as the leading scorer with 21 points. Carter followed with a strong interior performance, scoring 13.
With the loss, Pitt falls to 5-2 on the year while Missouri improves to 6-2.
Pitt will now play Clemson on Dec. 3, once again at the Petersen Events Center. That game will tip off at 2 p.m. on ACC Network.