Pitt was able
to do that against Marquette, which won the two regular-season meetings, by
switching up defenses to keep the Golden Eagles off-balance. The Panthers
primarily played their tenacious man-to-man defense, however, but the difference
this time around was they forced a lot of turnovers by Marquette and did not
give up their own possessions. Pitt turned the ball over just seven times,
nearly a season-low, while forcing the Golden Eagles to fumble away possessions
on 14 occasions.
wanted to prove to all the doubters that we're still the best team in the Big
East,'' Pitt junior forward Mike Cook said. "It was motivation for us all week.
We wanted to get another shot at Marquette, and we proved we could beat anybody
with the way that we played in this game.''
Senior Aaron Gray was dominant with 22 points and 10 rebounds, which he was not in the last
game, while Cook added 16 points and seven boards and sophomore forward Sam Young chipped in with 17 points. Sophomore point guard Levance Fields had 13
points, while senior Antonio Graves had 10. So, it was a balanced offensive
attack for the Panthers.
well-balanced team,'' Gray said. "We're not a one-man show. We have a lot of
options and a lot of guys who can score.''
Pitt also had
a little luck on its side, something sorely lacking in previous games when it
appeared that the ball rarely bounced its way. Fields banked in a 3-point shot
at one point in the second half to improve the lead to double-figures. So, all
in all, it was a solid Panthers win. It would be nice if they could shoot a
little better from the field and the free-throw line, but that's not to diminish
how well they played against Marquette.
89 points, so it must have been doing something right. But its field-goal
percentage was slightly less than 50 percent, and it was 27-for-41 from the line
(nearly 66 percent). The Panthers canned about 10 straight at one point and made
10 more free throws than Marquette, which was 17-for-19.
The same type
of game will need to occur for Pitt to beat Louisville. There are some match-up
problems that could hurt the Panthers if they get in transition too often, like
they did in regular-season loss, but they managed to figure out how to beat
Marquette after losing twice and have the same motivation to beat the Cardinals.
So, it's another
chance for a payback for Pitt and a chance to play in their sixth title game in
seven seasons. If that happens and the opponent is Georgetown, well, the Hoyas
also have a late-season win against the Panthers.But first, Pitt has to take
care of one payback at a time.