Pitt beats Miami, 59-55, in overtime

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The result is the only thing that matters in a conference road game, There are no style points.

That's good news for the 25th-ranked Pitt Panthers, who slogged and slopped their way to a 59-55 overtime win against Miami Wednesday night at BankUnited Center.

With the victory, the Panthers (19-4, 7-3) keep themselves in contention for the ACC title.

Leading the way was senior Lamar Patterson, who had a school-record 10 points in overtime -- and made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 10 seconds -- to help secure the win.

Patterson said the Panthers, who played with a hobbled Talib Zanna (ankle), struggled offensively at times.

"I'm disappointed in how we played the whole game, basically, but we came together at the end and came out with the 'W,' " said Patterson, who scored a team-high 25 points and had four assists and three rebounds.

"I didn't want to leave this game and be like 'I could have gave more' and I started out rough, but I wanted to put my print on the game. But nothing else ever matters, that is all we want -- to win. As long as we play together and come out with 'Ws,' it is a good day."

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said it was an ugly game at times, adding that the Panthers were sloppy with the ball in the first half but made the necessary plays down the stretch and persevered when many things went wrong.

He liked the defense and the toughness his team showed in hitting free throws late and holding on for the win.

"We fought through, obviously Talib is not 100 percent," Dixon said. "There is no doubt about that, and we had foul trouble from a number of our guys and we had to put some guys at different spots. We had to win fight through some things to win a game against the reigning ACC champion.

"It is a win on the road, another road win and there aren't a lot of those in conference play, and we have four of them and there aren't too many teams that have four road wins."

Miami had a small lead for most of the first half, but two late 3-pointers by Patterson, including one with three seconds left, gave the Panthers a 29-28 halftime lead.

The second half started out rough for both teams as they combined to miss 12 shots. Neither team scored until Patterson gave Pitt a 32-28 lead with a 3-pointer with 14:51 left.

The Panthers looked like they were ready to take control as they pushed their lead to 37-30 with 13:14 to go on a layup by Josh Newkirk, but a 9-2 Miami run tied the score at 39-39 with 4:35 left.

Pitt took a 44-42 lead with 1:35 remaining on a free throw by Patterson, but Rion Brown hit a 3-pointer to give the Hurricanes a 45-44 lead with 24 seconds left.

Patterson's layup gave Pitt a 46-45 lead with 13 seconds to go, but Manu Lecomte tied it again, hitting 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds left. When Cameron Wright's 3-point attempt at the buzzer failed, the game headed to overtime.

The Panthers took a 54-51 lead with 1:28 remaining as Patterson made another layup and Zanna hit 1 of 2 free throws.

Pitt closed out the win by making 5 of its final 6 free throws.

"Free throws are something I have been working on," Patterson said. "We have lost games because I missed some free throws or lost opportunities because I missed free throws, ... and that is not acceptable being as I have been here for a while "Our shooting percentage was only 30 percent, we had a lot of turnovers, I had four myself, and those are things we want to be perfect on. We want to shoot high percentage, we want to keep turnovers low and keep the assist-to-turnover ratio high."

Pitt won the game, even though Miami (11-11, 2-7) won the rebounding battle, 43-37, and the Hurricanes got 24 points in the paint and 12 second-chance points off 17 offensive rebounds.

The Hurricanes were led by Brown, who scored 21 points and grabbed four rebounds.

Only one other Miami player, Garrius Adams, scored in double figures (10 points) and the Hurricanes had 14 turnovers.

The biggest turnover by the Hurricanes, who made only 14 of 25 free throws and 5 of 20 from 3-point range came with less than 10 seconds to play in overtime.

Pitt had taken a 57-55 lead after a free throw by Patterson, The Hurricanes took over with a chance to either tie or win.

But Wright knocked the ball away from Brown as he attempted to drive to the basket, Patterson gained possession and hit the two clinching free throws.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise First Published February 5, 2014 9:47 PM

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