Scotty Hopson and the Tennessee Volunteers beat the Pittsburgh Panthers at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh today 83-76.
Hopson scored a career-high 27 points for Tennessee (7-0). The loss for Pittsburgh (10-1) was their first of the season. The Volunteers are 7-0 for the first time under Bruce Pearl.
Tennessee really took it to Pittsburgh early and often in this game. The Panthers only led once and that was 2-0. It felt like the game was never in doubt in the second half because they did a great job of maintaining a comfortable lead.
Every time the Panthers attempted to make a run it was stifled. Tennessee answered every call from the Panthers today. The score was a lot closer than the game really was. They led 37-25 at the half.
The size of the Volunteers really gave the guards for Pittsburgh trouble. Ashton Gibbs scored 15 points, but most of those were late in the game. He struggled to shoot over lanky defenders. He finished 4-13 from the field.
It didn’t help that the Volunteers rarely missed shots. Hopson went 10-13 from the floor. They combined to shoot 56 percent from the floor and an astonishing 63 percent (7-11) from behind the arc.
There were a lot of open shots for Tennessee in the early parts of the game, but credit them for making those shots.
They were up to the task on the boards against a team that was the leading rebounding team in the country. They were the tougher, more physical basketball team today.
Melvin Goins was huge today, he scored 19 points. More impressive was his defensive ability to shut down Gibbs in the first half. He stuck with him and followed around screens closely throughout the game.
I learned more about Tennessee than Pittsburgh in this game. A team that was picked 4th in the SEC-East was highly underrated.
I think Pittsburgh will ultimately be fine in the end. They need to forget about this game for now, but realize that they aren’t as invincible as they thought they were.
Pittsburgh has to learn how to play well when they are the favorite in the game. They are used to being the underdog, but this team isn’t going anywhere until they learn how to play when they are the best team.
Don’t take one loss so seriously, as hard as this was to watch. Pittsburgh lost to an Indiana team on a national stage at Madison Square Garden 74-64 one year ago. It was a similar game to the one we saw today. They got punched in the mouth. Indiana finished the season 10-21.
Pittsburgh will be fine and will bounce back.
About the Author
Written by Justin Welton
Born in Franklin, PA. Life-long Pittsburgh sports fan + Boston Celtics. Attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Working for WCUC - 91.7 and WCUB-TV. Clarion Call writer for two years.