Duke basketball still has no excuse for loss to Pittsburgh without two starters

The Duke basketball team inexplicably dropped another game to a far inferior team.
Jan 20, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Ishmael Leggett (5) drives to
Jan 20, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Ishmael Leggett (5) drives to / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully, you were watching the Green Bay Packers against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs rather than the Duke basketball team on Saturday night.

The Blue Devils, without starters Jeremy Roach (knee) and Mark Mitchell (knee), lost to Pittsburgh at home, 80-76.

It was the same Panthers team that was defeated by Duke by 22 points, 75-53, two weeks ago.

Pittsburgh (11-7, 2-5 ACC) opened the game on an 11-2 run and extended that lead to 21-10 midway through the first half, but the Blue Devils would answer and seize a 26-23 lead with 7:16 left before halftime but immediately give up a 9-0 run.

It was the story of the the game.

Duke trailed 38-34 going into halftime and wouldn't take a lead in the second half until it was 50-49 with 13:56 remaining. The teams would go back-and-forth until a Blake Hinson 3-pointer, which he was 7-for-7, with 6:33 left gave the Panthers a lead it would not relinquish.

It was, by far, the most embarrassing performance of the season for Jon Scheyer's team.

Jared McCain led the Blue Devils with 20 points while Kyle Filipowski had 19 points in the defeat.

Duke (13-4, 4-2 ACC) was out-rebounded 32-25 and no player had more than six rebounds in the game, which came from freshman guard Caleb Foster.

The defense was nonexistent, letting Pittsburgh shoot 50.8-percent from the field and 50.0-percent from 3-point range, although the team was 3-for-13 from beyond the arc excluding Hinson.

It's still inexcusable for this team to lose this game despite being without two starters, with losses against Georgia Tech and Arkansas -- albeit road games -- on its resume.

It felt like there were little adjustments made from its nail-biter with the Yellow Jackets last week and it's concerning for this team to not be progressing at the rate many thought it would in the preseason.

Duke will look to get back in the win column against pitiful Louisville (6-12, 1-6 ACC) on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network).