For those that still think the screaming, chest-pounding and raw emotions from Dante Taylor are about selfish, me-first attitude; please watch him break down in the post-game while talking about his teammates and Pitt. Taylor wears his emotions on his sleeve. He could never match the expectations, but he has loved being a Pitt Panther and he loves the school and his teammates. If you don’t get that. If your reaction still begins with, “Yeah, but…” Just go away for a few days. This was Senior Day. His moment, and he earned it now and for the 3+ previous years.
We knew this was going to be a rough game for Pitt. With Adams out for the game. Villanova really, really needed the win. Oh, and Karl Hess was lording over the officiating crew.
As much as the lack of Adams’ presence on the floor affected how Villanova was able to attack inside, Talib Zanna had quietly been very effective on the glass. And in OT made everyone aware of his impact on offense. He scored Pitt’s first 7 points in the overtime and looked like the Zanna we saw in December. When the play-calling crew said he was in double-digits in rebounds I was surprised. He had been out there most of the game. Doing the dirty work. It all added up to 19 rebounds along with 14 points — and 9 of those coming in the overtime.
Woodall also had a double-double of his own with 13 points and 11 assists. Not his best shooting day, but you could see the determination to keep Pitt in this game.
Can we just agree that Durand Johnson likes to play Villanova? He nailed all three of his threes. In two games against Nova he has scored 22 points. He has 54 in the other 14 Big East games he’s played this year.
James Robinson has had a miserable stretch — or to simplify — he just hasn’t shot well at all in Big East play. In the final minutes and overtime. The entire narrative shifted. Clutch shooting. Big cojones to take and make those 3s. Especially after visibly passing on some looks earlier in the game. His teammates trust him, and in those moments he trusted himself.
Pitt gutted out a win without the starting center. They got stronger and better as the game went on. Once more, the deep rotation served them well to grind and wear a team down.
They were able to shift defensive styles to stymie the Wildcats. Going from man to zone. Keeping them off-guard. They handled the lack of any flow because of the way the game was officiated, and handled the way the game was called (better than I did).
Pitt is now in a position to take a double-bye in the Big East Tournament (for whatever that is worth) and win 12 games in the Big East this season. With all the questions this team has had coming into the year and during the year, they’ve already beaten most expectations.