Panthers Defeat Bearcats 62 -52.

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 adams_420Steven 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.

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Pitt Beats Providence 68-64

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 04 Providence at PittsburghFor the last time as Big East Conference rivals Pitt played Providence today defeating the Friars 68-64.  Junior forward Lamar Patterson led Panthers scorers with 17 points while pulling down 7 rebounds.  Talib Zanna, Tray Woodall, and JJ Moore all added 9 points respectively.  The Panthers improved their overall record to 16 -4 and are now 4-3 in the Big East. The Panthers play DePaul on Saturday at the Peterson Events Center.

The scrappy Friars, now the owners of a 10-9 record, kept the game close until the final seconds looking to defeat Pitt in the last game of a series that began on March 18, 1975.  While the teams may meet againin the future it they will be as members of new conferences  with Pitt set to join the ACC next season and Providence leaving the Big East for greener pastures with the other members of the “Catholic 7.”

 

History is likely to show that the exodus of the “Catholic 7” (DePaul, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Marquette, Villanova, Providence and Georgetown) was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” as the Big East looked to remain relevant as traditional powers and charter members Pitt and Syracuse follow West Virginia out of the conference.  However it has been a slow decay for the Big East since the departure of Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami in the early part of last decade.  With football becoming subpar the Big East’s success has been in being the nations basketball super conference.  However with the departure of 10 of its teams in a matter of years it is unlikely the conference will recover.  Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese told the USA Today,

 

Q. Having been part of the Big East since its berth, what is your opinion on what happened over the weekend with the 7 Catholic basketball schools leaving the conference?

A. It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. But in my mind it was really probably over a year ago when Syracuse and Pittsburgh left. Having said that, I think the group of Catholic schools can be successful. I do feel sorry for the people they left behind. They are going to have a tough time of it. A school like Connecticut which has seven national championships in women’s basketball and three in men’s basketball is pretty much in limbo.

Q. What do you think was the reason behind this move and all the other moves of the past few years?

A. Everybody can give whatever reason they want. But it’s all about the money. Anybody who says differently is either lying or is naïve. But today we live in a totally different environment. And we’re not finished yet. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be more of this (reconfiguration) and that saddens me.

The days of Big East basketball are coming to an end and matchups like Pitt vs. Providence are the exact kind of games that will be missed throughout the Northeast as its basketball powers split up among several mid-major conferences.  However we will save that for another post, a post about Big East Saturday’s and what it meant to really hate West Virginia.