The 23rd ranked Pitt Panthers defeated the 17th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats 62 -52 in what is likely to be noted as a key away win come NCAA tournament selection time. The win helped cement Pitt’s 12th straight 20 win season, the 10th straight under Head Coach Jamie Dixon. Panthers center Steven Adams showed further signs of his continual improvement as he was at times dominant, scoring 13 points and blocking 4 shots. Panthers senior guard Tray Woodall led the team with 14 points which helped him surpass the 1,ooo point milestone for his career. Woodall now joins former Panthers such as Levance Fields, Carl Krauser, Sean Miller, and Brandin Knight in having accumulated over 1,000 points and 500 assists in their collegiate careers. Forward Talib Zanna added 11 points while pulling down 9 boards and Lamar Patterson added nine. Sean Kilpatrick led the Bearcats with 16 points, of which 15 where scored in the first half. He suffered a hand injury at the end of the first that dramatically limited his effectiveness in the 2nd, a likely key factor in Pittsburgh’s comeback.
The story of the game was Adams who at one point in the second half looked as if he could score at will. The incredibly raw but talented Kiwi often looks like he is lost on the court, relying on his freakish athleticism to keep him in the game. However for a 10 minute span in this game he was far and away the best player on the court. With the game still in reach his quick interior pass to a driving Talib Zanna likely put the game away. The timing couldn’t be any better for the Panthers to have Adams heat up as his play was likely the determining factor on how they will do in the Big East and NCAA tournaments. With Adams in lock step the Panthers are a dominant team, when he is lost (as he usually is for the first half) the Panthers look like a solid but beatable team.
The Panthers record improves to 20-5 (8-4 in Big East). they will have the upcoming week off before playing #24 Marquette on Saturday and then hosting #25 Notre Dame on Monday.
In the ongoing Dante Taylor’s legacy watch, the chubby frontman once again made fans question if he earned his 208 title of McDonald’s All American by winning a McChicken Nugget contest. For a brief moment in the first half Taylor played well. However after missing an easy layup, grabbing the board, and then missing the following layup Taylor disappeared. The clock is ticking for Taylor to do something, anything to improve his legacy at Pitt. The highly heralded recruit has cemented his reputation as one of the school’s biggest recruitment disappointments in recent history. To date Taylor has 629 career points. For comparison Ontario Lett, who was never confused for a star, had 619 career points in his two-year stint as a Panther. As Adams and Zanna continue to improve there are likely to be less and less minutes designated for Taylor. He is at a point when he needs one big play in a big game to have his name be remembered by the blue and gold faithful for anything but disappointment.
The win helped Pitt navigate their way to the top-tier of the Big East standings. The conference currently has 7 teams ranked in the top 25.
Click the link for a video recap of the game.