Most games you can't point to one thing and say why a team won or lost. This game was pretty simple - boiled down to good ol' fashioned shooting. Pitt shot about 20% higher (54.8% to Marquette's 35%) and that was really the difference in the game. Rebounding was a wash (Pitt +2), 3 point shooting was a wash (Pitt +2.3%), and the turnovers were pretty even (Pitt -4).
But back to that shooting for a minute. Seems as if everyone had a good night putting the ball in the basket, right? Well, everyone except Ashton Gibbs, who went 0-6 from the field with only two points - easily his lowest output of the season and the first time he failed to make a field goal. With Gibbs out of the picture, Pitt had perhaps their most balanced effort of the year with four guys getting exactly ten points. Gary McGhee had a solid game with ten points, five rebounds, and six blocks, but that was somewhat expected against a team whose tallest player that gets any significant minutes is 6'6".
Gibbs wasn't the only leading scorer to strggle as Pitt held Lazar Haywood to only 11 points on 4-17 shooting:
"He's one of the best players in the league, and one of the toughest players," Jamie Dixon said. "We were fortunate. But we did make him take tough shots, I think that was key."Enough with guys struggling - one guy that had not exactly been tearing it up played a key role during a crucial run during the game:
Hayward came into the game averaging 19.4 points and 10.4 rebounds during the Golden Eagles' five-game winning streak, including three double-doubles.
Hayward said he needed to do a better job of getting his teammates involved on a night when the Golden Eagles got away from their winning formula.
"We weren't playing together, we weren't creating for each other and we weren't playing team defense," Hayward said.
It was a sure sign that No. 19 Pittsburgh was about to take control: Dante Taylor throwing down his third uncontested dunk in the space of a little more than two minutes.Travon Woodall was also rewarded with 17 minutes after his monster game against WVU. He played well: 2-3 for five points, a steal, and an assist. Not a great game by any stretch, but as long as he can play some key minutes without torching a can of gasoline, he allows the starters to get a breather.
A freshman who has played sparingly in recent weeks, Taylor's brief scoring burst played a pivotal role in a 14-5 run that helped the Panthers take the lead early in the second half, then hold on for a 58-51 victory over Marquette on Thursday night.
"I think it was good for our guys," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "They know how hard Dante is working. When guys make big plays and don't play as much as the other guys, it really, I think, brings energy to a team."
Tonight's oddball stat was that Marquette actually had nearly 1/3 more shots than Pitt (60-42). Part of that was due to allowing so many offensive rebounds (11 to Pitt's 4) for the second straight game. This was bad against WVU, but with Marquette's size, tonight's effort keeping them off the offensive boards was downright embarrassing.
Tonight's win gives Pitt its ninth straight 20-win season. Man, that never gets old.
When you factor in everything (conference game against a solid team, road game, game against a bugbble team desperate for a win), this was really a great looking win. It also keeps Pitt in the top four of the conference and still in the running for one of those coveted double bye seeds in the Big East tournament.