Pitt notebook: Intimidation not an option against Florida
March 21, 2014 12:24 AM
Pitt's Cameron Wright soars in for a layup against Colorado Thursday afternoon at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
By Paul Zeise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The question hit Lamar Patterson like someone threw a bucket of cold water at him.
"Is there any intimidation level for you guys facing a No. 1 team?" a reporter asked of the matchup Saturday with top overall seed Florida.
"Intimidation?" Patterson said as he did a double-take. "Do you know anything about Pittsburgh basketball? No, we are never intimidated."
The question was asked of Patterson and several other players in the locker room after Pitt's 77-48 win against Colorado Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament -- and this was before the hometown favorite and No. 1 seed even took the court to play its game.
Florida did beat Albany, 67-55, to advance and set up the third-round game, but clearly the Panthers will face long odds -- and a hostile crowd.
And they might lose, but if they do, they insist it won't be because they are intimidated.
"No, we are not going to be intimidated," point guard James Robinson said. "If I remember correctly, Syracuse was No. 1 when we played them and that game came down to the wire. This is a basketball game, it is what it is, you have to come out and play 40 minutes."
The Panthers have played some of their best basketball when they get out and run in transition, which is exactly what they did in the first half against Colorado.
Pitt had 24 points off turnovers, 19 layups off 31 field goals and 14 fastbreak points. Most of those numbers came in the first 24 minutes.
Patterson said Pitt's defense always triggers its offense, and this game was a great example of how good they can be when that's the case.
"I thought we played our best defense of the season in the first half," he said. "If we continue to play defense and rebound and get stops, offensively it will just come. [The transition] was all because of our defense -- that's what we want to do, get up and down.
"We definitely [like to run more than play slow], everyone does, that's exciting. Just go out there and get a quick bucket, get a quick stop and do it all over again."
Took their heart
Talib Zanna, who had 18 points and five rebounds, said the game was pretty much over when Pitt went ahead, 13-0, because the Buffaloes' body language spoke volumes.
"In the first five minutes, I think they already gave up," Zanna said. "We were just trying to keep attacking and going to the glass. We just outplayed them and they quit."
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said he was impressed with Pitt's defense and compared it to Arizona, which beat the Buffaloes three times this year.
He said both teams play the same style of physical defense and are efficient on offense and that Pitt will be a tough out for anyone.
"I think Pittsburgh is a great passing team," Boyle said. "They really move the ball well. They get you in rotations. We guard ball screens like Pitt guards ball screens. We show hard and get over the top. The difference is they are very consistent in it and offensively they do a great job of getting in rotations.
"They have good players, there's no doubt about it."
Pitt's 29-point margin of victory was its largest in NCAA tournament history. The old mark was 26 in an 87-61 win against Wagner in 2003. ... The Panthers had only three turnovers, an NCAA tournament low that also ties the mark for the fewest turnovers in the Dixon era.
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