As unlikely as it may have seemed, No. 14 Notre Dame, led by Ben Hansbrough, dealt No. 2 Pittsburgh their first home loss in over a year. Better yet, it moves the Irish, who were unranked to start the season and predicted to finish 7th in the Big East, within a game-and-a-half of first in the conference.
A trio of Fighting Irish starters- Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott had been struggling with their shot and injury, leaving ND 0-3 in true road games this season and 5-13 overall dating back to 2008-09. In that same span, the Panthers are 49-1.
With injuries and shooting woes, Notre Dame's "burn" offense- one that requires patience, discipline and the ability to knock down open jumpers- had backfired. In their previous two losses, they shot just 6-of-31 from 3-point range and committed 31 turnovers. But the gameplan against Pitt kept the raucous Zoo deflated and out of the game by slowing the game down as ND winds down the shot clock each and every possession.
Hansbrough ran the offense to perfection, but in several pick-and-roll situations down the stretch, he knocked down a jumper over Gary McGhee, drove to the rim on McGhee and went to the bucket, scoring on three straight possessions.