Pitt’s basketball team will bounce back from its startling loss against Louisville on Monday night, players have said, and the Panthers get a chance to do that today.

Pitt faces Washington at 2 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

“Obviously, there’s not a lot of teams that have lost as few games as we have,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “But I think we’ll bounce back, and we’ve got to do some things better. I didn’t think we’d make the turnovers that we made, but we’ll bounce back. I think we’ll bounce back, and we’ll have to.”

“We’ve always stated that we need to improve, and I think we need to get better. So, that’s something that we’re working on. We’re always trying to get better. I don’t think we ever thought that we were as good as we need to be.”

The Panthers (22-4, 10-2 Big East) did not play well down the stretch last season, but they still had a long run into the title game at the Big East Tournament before bowing out in the second round at the NCAA tourney. This year, senior Aaron Gray believed getting smacked down by Louisville would be a good thing.

“A team with a lot of quickness is something we’ll have to prepare for as well, and we’re going to have to respond,” Gray said. “So, it’s something that we have to work on, and there’s a lot of things that we feel we have to work on right now. We know we need to get better, and we always want to get better all the time.

“But how we played (against Louisville) is not indicative of this team. So, maybe (the Louisville game) was something that we needed to show us how good that we aren’t. But we’re definitely going to keep working hard, and I’m sure we’ll respond.”

Gray also noted that if the Panthers play as poorly as they did against the Cardinals it won’t matter who they play. They’ll lose every time.

But Gray just chalked it up to a poor performance against a good team.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do offensively, and we had a lot of turnovers,” Gray said. “We gave up a lot of bad shots. ... It was just a bad day, but that’s going to happen sometimes. We’d rather it happen now than later on down the road.

“The true test will be how we respond from this and not so much what happened (against Louisville). I’m not worried about this. I’m still very confident in my teammates, and I’m still very confident in my coaching staff. Like I’ve said, how we respond, that will be the true test.”

Gray then threw down the gauntlet for the remaining teams on Pitt’s schedule, as well as in the tournaments.

“Teams can try to switch up game plans to try to play more press against us,” Gray said. “But this is what Louisville does. Other teams, they can go away from what they do to try to press us, but it might not work out. And I’m sure it will be an emphasis for us from now on.

“So, I really don’t foresee (a game) like this happening to us again. ... It’s just something that we’re going to have to get better at, because teams probably are going to play it more often down the road in the Big East Tournament and NCAAs. And we’ll definitely be ready for it.”

The Panthers had just one day to prepare for Louisville, actually not much time at all, because they were supposed to be off Sunday and just had a walkthrough to prepare for the Cardinals. That’s why Dixon said the team had a rough start and never came back all the way.

“When you dig a hole like that it’s very tough to come back,” Dixon said. “I thought we came back and executed pretty well in the second half, but when you put yourself in such a big hole – 17 in the first half – it’s tough. And they played very well from start to finish.

“I thought we weren’t aggressive enough. We also had to be patient, but more aggressive in the way we attacked it. We just were impatient and not aggressive enough on offense.”

Pitt gets its first chance to get back on track today against the Huskies (16-9, 6-8 Pac-10) in a non-conference game.

Washington lost 65-61 on Wednesday to No. 10 Washington State. Freshman Spencer Hawes had 22 points and sophomore Jon Brockman added 15 for the Huskies.

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