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Pitt’s Dixon searching for answers in Maui

LAHAINA, Hawaii — If he said it once, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon already has said it multiple times this season:

“We’re a team that certainly isn’t where we’re supposed to be.”

Dixon said it once again, following the Panthers’ 74-57 loss late Tuesday night to San Diego State – less than 24 hours before facing Kansas State for third place in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

“I said to our guys we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Dixon explained. “Came out, ran a play and executed it the way we wanted to do it. Got a bucket, got a charge on the first play, and those are two things we emphasize. The next 39 minutes we seem to be doing things different in how we planned and prepared.”

Dixon promised a better performance Wednesday night against Kansas State, although he stopped short of predicting a victory.

“We’re going to come back and play better, and that is the message we got across to our guys,” said Dixon, who continues searching for answers.

Pitt outrebounded San Diego State, 35-21, yet still lost by 17 points in the Panthers’ largest margin of defeat this year.

That makes no sense to Dixon.

“If you told me we outrebounded them by 14, I would have felt really good,” Dixon said.

However, if you told Dixon beforehand that the Panthers would commit 17 turnovers against San Diego State, he could have predicted the outcome.

“The turnovers were extremely costly,” said Dixon about a game featuring only one lead change due to San Diego State’s dominance. “We’re a low turnover team, but right now we definitely struggled with that, and it got them a lot of transition baskets. We were forcing shots and that’s not who we are. We made bad decisions to pass to the wrong guy.”

Junior point guard James Robinson led Pitt with 17 points, but he also paced the team with a game-high five turnovers.

“That’s pretty much on me,” Robinson said regarding the Panthers’ early shot-clock violations against San Diego State . “I’ve got to learn from it and take it into (Wednesday’s) game and make sure we’re better, especially early.”

Defensively, Dixon experimented with a zone after Pitt’s man-to-man principles were ineffective as San Diego State shot 58.7 percent.

“They hurt us by interior passing against the zone … and they hurt us up top in the zone,” Dixon said. “(They) ran it about four or five possessions, and I think they scored every time. You can look at different ways, but they beat us soundly both on man and zone.”


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