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Pitt claims vital conference win

Pitt's defense clamped down on Villanova midway through the second half and pulled away for a 58-43 road win Wednesday night at the Pavillion.

"We won with our defense. The defense is coming along," Dixon said. "We didn’t play great, but we played hard and we defended. That’s what you have to do on the road."

Pitt's defense held Villanova to 31 percent shooting from the floor and also forced 18 turnovers. The offense did not score its first field goal until over five minutes into the game when Trey Zeigler hit a layup in traffic.

The rebounding script held true for the Panthers. They lost every Big East conference game when they were out-rebounded and they won every game when they out-rebounded their opponent.

They out-rebounded the Wildcats 39-27 including giving up only one offensive rebound the entire game. Villanova entered the game as the best rebounding team in the Big East.

"We spent the whole pre-game talk screaming about rebounding and we came out and did it. [Villanova] had one offensive rebound. That speaks volumes," Dixon said. "We haven't been getting it done. In our losses, we haven’t rebounded. We've been preaching it. Villanova was out-rebounding their opponent by ten coming into the game."

It was a game of runs before Pitt (13-4, 1-3 Big East) held Villanova (11-5, 2-1 Big East) to two field goals in the final 11 minutes. The Panthers had a 9-0 run late in the first half to take a 19-13 lead. Villanova responded with an 8-0 run to end the half with a 23-22 lead. The Wildcats were helped by the Panthers' ten turnovers in the first half, one more than their game average.

The Wildcats continued to roll in the second half by tearing off a 9-2 run after the break and extend their run to 17-2 and were up 32-25 five minutes into the second half. The Panthers then responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game less than two minutes later.

Pitt then scored the final 15 points of the game to pull away for a vital road conference win. The breakout was ignited by a Zeigler assist in the lane. He was double-teamed but broke through and fed a wide open Steve Adams who slammed home a dunk to break a 43-43 tie.

With the game still undecided, and Pitt clinging to a 49-43 lead with 1:15 left, Lamar Patterson hauled in an offensive rebound and drove around the lane for a layup to give Pitt a 51-43 lead. It was his first points of the night and it game at a good time.

On the offensive end, it was Pitt's bench that carried the load. Zeigler and Durand Johnson scored 13 points each. Zeigler also added six rebounds. Steve Adams added nine. Tray Woodall added eight points.

"We had great performances from Durand [Johnson], Trey [Zeigler], and Steve [Adams]," Dixon said. "Adams is getting better figuring it out. This is a whole new world for him."

Pitt shot 3-15 from three-point line but scored 11 second-chance points. Villanova did not have any second chance points.

"We took good three-point shots. We just didn't make them," Dixon said. "I thought we were the aggressor today. We were more physical, more active."

Villanova was led by Darrell Hilliard with 14 points, but he scored all of them in the first half. Pitt's defense shut him out in the second half.

The Panthers return home to host Connecticut on Saturday at noon at the Petersen Events Center.

"We have to continue to grind," Dixon said. "That's who we are."

  • Nice win and important win but in terms of being a barometer of things to come its really a mixed bag.

    The good:

    1. Zeigler coming out and playing a solid game. Some smart guy posted that he saw glimpses from Zeigler last game that he was getting comfortable Same smart guy noted his comment in the paper that its taking time for him to get acclimated to JD's more ""STRUCTURED" hes thinking too much rather than just playing.......Glad the rest of the Pitt nation didnt get their wish and nail him to the bench or this would have been a loss.

    2. Johnson clearly showing a scorers mentality. Kid has no conciiense and clearly is not afraid of getting pulled. His offense will be a key for this team

    3. Adams continuing to slowly improve and become more active.

    4. Out rebounding Nova who supposedly was a pretty good rebounding team. Nice to see and encouraging for sure.

    THe down right distrubing

    Stat lines for our other four starters, Tray, Patterson, Zanna and JROB. Ugh........

    Lamar just baflfes the heck out of me. I see the talent but hes inconsistent as heck. Actually, this year hes been consistently bad. A stat line of 5 points, a shooting percentage that Mario Mendoza would be ashamed of, no assists and 3 TOs.

    Tray was equally bad.....when your two gaurd scores 8 points has 5 tos and a low shooting percentage, youre not going to win many games.

    Tray and Lamar are upper classman and really should be the keys to this team. Lamar especially is a liability on the court more often than not and Tray is neutral at best. Lamar needs to see less minutes and JJ needs to take his minutes.

    Zannas line of 4 points and 2 whole rebounds. Ok he was in Foul trouble but thats two pretty pedestrian games in a row.

    JROB continues to struggle. I still think the future is bright but hes going through growing pains. He really needs to work on his conditioning in the off season.

    Three of the four guys who struggled are upper classman. If they were young guys you'd be less concerned as you might expect them to improve as the season wears on. Patterson and Tray? eh

    JDs post game comments also concern me. I like the emphasis on rebouonding and toughness but "grinding it out" is not a formula for success with this crew. Grinding it out is not going to win games in march.

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    A "Real PITT MAN"............get off my porch!

  • must really dislike tray. The dude is coming off a concussion, can we give him a little time? Divorced, getting fit and trying to keep my head above water

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