It seemed like it could have slipped away in the second half. Adams was in foul trouble and didn’t play the final 6+ minutes. And while the box score might suggest that Taylor wasn’t much of a drop-off (fewer rebounds and blocks but more points and less turnovers), Adams’ defensive impact was huge. His blocks had the effect of keeping UConn wary of going inside as much as they wanted — yes, even as Ryan Boatright appeared to spend the second half continually driving to the lane. Adams had their frontcourt wary of going all the way to the rim. They didn’t want to challenge him.
Taylor was not that intimidating presence. And after a Napier 3 next three offensive opportunities for UConn had them going right into the paint after Adams departed. That said, Taylor came up huge in a way that Adams cannot. He drilled both of his freethrows with under 3 minutes left and Pitt clinging to a 2-point lead.
Pitt’s overall freethrow shooting still looks weak (17-23), but when you look at who took FTs and their general numbers it is hard to say that Pitt left much more than 2 points on the table (Zanna 1-3, Patterson 4-6). But in a way that reminds me of Dixon excusing the poor FT shooting of the Page/Brown teams of his first couple years, Pitt “made them when they had to.” Pitt all six FTs in the final 3 minutes to keep UConn from being able to snatch the game.