CORAL GABLES, Fla. — In an age of star underclassmen, Wednesday’s game at BankUnited Center was a bit of a rarity.
It was senior vs. senior.
Two big-time scorers going at it, forward Lamar Patterson for the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers and guard Rion Brown for the Miami Hurricanes.
Patterson, who scored a game-high 25 points, won the battle, helping the Panthers defeat the Hurricanes 59-55 in overtime.
Brown led Miami with 21 points, but Patterson was even better.
“I didn’t want to become a ghost in overtime,” Patterson said. “My team looks to me. I wanted to come through for them.”
He was no ghost. In fact, he outscored Miami all by himself 10-9 in OT.
Patterson has scored in double figures in an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 21 consecutive games, and he entered play Wednesday ranked fourth in the league in scoring and fifth in assists.
On Miami’s final possession of overtime, Brown lost the handle and Patterson got the steal.
The final minute of regulation was thrilling. With Miami trailing 44-42 and 25 seconds left, Brown hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Patterson put Pitt back on top with a drive to the hoop with 13 seconds left.
Miami point guard Manu Lecomte got fouled on a drive with seven seconds left. Lecomte missed the first free throw but made the second to force overtime.
The Hurricanes missed five of six free throws in the final two minutes of regulation. In addition to Lecomte, Brown missed two, and guard Garrius Adams missed two.
“If me, Garrius and Manu hit some free throws, the game is over,” Brown said. “So that’s on us.”
Brown played a team-high 41 minutes, which was surprising since he was sick and missed practice Tuesday. Due to the illness, he began a game on the bench for the first time this season.
Pitt (19-4, 7-3 ACC) snapped a two-game losing streak while tying Duke for third place in the conference.
“We are happy our guys knocked down their free throws — 73 percent (overall) and 80 percent in overtime,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “That says great things about our guys.
“We defended some things better. We had foul trouble, but we played through some things.”
Miami (11-11, 2-7) lost its fourth consecutive ACC games. The Hurricanes are 0-5 this season in conference home games. Overall, Miami is 5-7 at home.
The game was a battle between two different defensive styles — man for Pitt and zone for Miami.
Before tip-off, Miami coach Jim Larranaga said Pitt may be the best passing team in the country. But that was not evident early, as the Panthers had just four assists and seven turnovers at the half.
Miami’s offense wasn’t much better, though. The Hurricanes opened the second half by making just one field goal in the first 10 minutes.
Pitt led 29-28 at halftime after Patterson hit two 3-pointers in the final minute, including one at the buzzer.
“The guy you have to find is the guy we talked about not letting him catch the ball,” Larranaga said, referring to the Hurricanes losing track of Patterson.
Miami, which led by as many as six points in the first half, got forward James Kelly back briefly after he missed the two previous games due to an ankle injury. He played one minute in the first half.
NOTES: The last time Pitt visited Miami was Jan. 10, 2004, when both teams were in the Big East and the Panthers won 84-80 in double overtime. … There were four Nigerian centers on the team’s rosters Wednesday — two for Miami and two for Pitt. Miami’s Nigerians are 7-foot, 235-pound sophomore starter Tonye Jekiri and 6-9, 240-pound senior reserve Raphael Akpejiori. Pitt’s Nigerians are 6-9, 230-pound senior starter Talib Zanna and 6-10, 260-pound sophomore reserve Joseph Uchebo, who didn’t get into the game. … Pitt senior F Lamar Patterson was selected the ACC Player of the Week three times this season. … Entering Wednesday, Miami ranked 336 out of 351 Division I teams with a 61.6 scoring average. When adjusted for points per possession, Miami was dead last. … Pitt leads the ACC in assists per
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