Press Conference: Pitt coach Jamie Dixon at ACC Tournament
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Pittsburgh.
Coach, a brief opening statement, then we’ll go to questions.
COACH DIXON: For us, obviously we played well in the first half. Did some good things. But as the game progressed, our defense caught up to us, didn’t get it done. Shot 59%.
Give them credit. They’re obviously a very good team, the ACC champion.
I certainly thought we would have finished off better than we did. It was, what, 45 tied up in the second half. We certainly didn’t get it done.
The defense struggled the entire game. Eventually it caught up to us as they pulled away in the second half.
Our guys battled, played hard. Maybe we were fatigued from yesterday. I didn’t feel that at the start of the game. I certainly thought that we did some good things.
Certainly disappointing for us. But we’ve got games to play, so we’ll be ready.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Jamie, you played them pretty even for 30 minutes. Seemed like they had a lot of bodies. Do you feel you got worn down a little bit?
COACH DIXON: Possibly we didn’t play enough guys, looking at me, as far as substituting. That was a possibility. Eventually it caught up to us as far as they shot 56 in the first half, we didn’t do anything about it in the second half.
Their size, they were scoring inside way too easily early and it continued on in the second half.
You can point to our defense. I don’t know that our offense was great either. But it just caught up to us. We had to out-rebound them, we talked about that. We didn’t get that done as well. Hard to get rebounds when they’re making shots at a 60% clip.
Fatigue, maybe. I don’t know. I thought we had more in us. Maybe, as I says earlier, we could have used some more bodies to help us.
Q. Jamie, can you talk about the last few minutes.
COACH DIXON: The first half?
COACH DIXON: Obviously we were in a pretty good spot, where you want to be. Obviously some turnovers led to baskets. Transition opportunities.
Obviously, it wasn’t a good stretch. Opposite of what happened yesterday, when we pulled away in the first half. We got the lead. I guess similar, just we switched spots with them.
Disappointing in how we handled that. We had some uncharacteristic turnovers. I think that’s things you don’t prepare for, but it certainly hurt us, was a big difference as they got the momentum.
With that said, we tied it up in the second half, later in the second half. It’s 45-all, I guess, with 12 or so minutes left.
Q. Jamie, talk about the last two days. Do you think you are in the tournament?
COACH DIXON: Yeah, I mean, everybody seems to be telling us we are. I haven’t looked at everything going on. Just from what everybody says.
We were just focused on this right now. This is disappointing. I thought we had more in us than this. I thought we were a better team than this. We did show it for periods of time, but not for 40 minutes.
Q. Jamie, you haven’t had a lot of come-from-behind wins. Do you think something about your team doesn’t suit that style of play or is it mental?
COACH DIXON: We came from behind yesterday. Syracuse, we were down 10 to start the game. That’s a come-from-behind win. I had to go back all the way to yesterday to find that one. That’s pretty good, I think.
But, yeah, no, we battle, we fought. We did it yesterday. I thought we did a great job of it yesterday. Got down in the second half, at halftime, came back and tied it up in this one in the second half as well.
Q. Mike, how difficult is it from going having to defend to Johnson to going to Meeks to going to Hicks, all the big men that they can throw at you down in the paint?
MICHAEL YOUNG: Just like you guys said, they had a lot of people that they were throwing at us. They were just rotating guys. They got about five guys that they play.
We got the same principles no matter who we’re guarding. We don’t want to try to get them too easy touches or get it too close to the basket. That was the game plan. I just don’t think we executed the game plan well. They were getting touches where they wanted it. When you’re good like those guys are, they’re going to make plays.
Q. Jamie, how tough is North Carolina when a guy like Justin Jackson is as aggressive as he is on the perimeter and they have so many weapons?
COACH DIXON: I mean, Jackson, I thought Berry was the guy that really hurt us in the first half. He was 6-6 in the first half. He hit some tough shots. I actually thought they made some tough shots in the second half, some clock shots. He hit the three up top that was big when we had a lead. I thought Berry was the guy early on that really kept us from maybe having a bigger lead with some of the shots and plays they made. Pretty good defense, team defense, that we had going for an entire possession.
He to me was the guy early. Second half they kind of spread it out and really hurt us inside.
Q. Jamie, the decision to start Cam Johnson.
COACH DIXON: Obviously I don’t know if it worked or didn’t work. Playing as well as he played, he seemed to have a lot of confidence. He brought a lot of confidence to our team with the way he was shooting the ball. I wanted Chris in there. He got the two quick fouls.
I guess we had a lead while it was happening. We were tied up with 12 or so minutes left. I don’t know exactly what it was.
Cameron played so well yesterday and has been playing so well, rebounding, defensively, made some shots for us yesterday.
Q. It seemed like they were picking up Robinson really early. Was that something you expected?
COACH DIXON: Yeah. I mean, I think it presented a problem, as I talked about earlier, having him play 40 minutes against it. We had other guys bring the ball up. I don’t know that we handled it as well.
Our turnovers were not a high number, but it seemed to be they turned into baskets. That was an issue.
Yeah, they picked up, which we expected. They were more aggressive than we were as the game went on. They seemed to be more aggressive. We had some travel calls that hurt us, then the steal at the end of the half hurt us.
That was big. We had the momentum. But with that said, we still came out and tied it up in the second half.
Q. I know coach addressed it, but how confident are you guys headed into Sunday?
JAMEL ARTIS: I think we’re in good shape right now. Like coach said, we’re just focused on right now. Disappointing loss.
Sunday we’ll be ready.
MICHAEL YOUNG: Just like coach say, we just worried about this game, learn from this game, how we can get better. When Sunday comes, we’ll worry about that. For right now, we’re just worried about how we can get better from this game.
Q. If you are going to the NCAA tournament, what do you learn from a game like this, the way the game progressed?
MICHAEL YOUNG: Just got to sustain. I think we played well in the first half except for the final minute or two. We got to keep it going for 40 minutes, fight the adversity. They came out and made their runs. I don’t think we buckled down and really did it with defense.
Coming from this game, moving on forward, we just got to sustain our defensive play and our aggression, our energy.
JAMEL ARTIS: We got to learn how to be disciplined for 40 minutes in a game. When we get down, we got to learn how to get stops. The basket’s not always going to fall, so we got to play defense and get stops.
We didn’t get stops in this game. They got a big lead. We didn’t get back in the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.