Rushed Reactions: #9 Pittsburgh 77, #8 Colorado 48Posted by rtmsf on March 20th, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Curb-Stomping to the Round of 32. What appeared to be a competitive game on paper never materialized into one on the floor, as Pittsburgh jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead and never looked back. All credit to Pitt’s active, long and aggressive defense, but Colorado looked downright somnambulent for the first half of this game. Of course, the same could be said about their entire season away from the Coors Events Center after losing star Spencer Dinwiddie to injury, so maybe what we saw today was just an extension of that. A 30-7 lead turned into a 46-18 halftime margin and the game hovered near 30 points for the entirety of the second half. Colorado ended up shooting the ball at a cool 35.7 percent for the game, but because of the 14-turnover margin that Pitt forced, it felt much, much worse.
- Colorado’s Season Really Ended With Dinwiddie’s Injury. Of course it’s impossible to predict would-have-beens in an activity as unpredictable as college basketball, but the versatility and talent that the 6’6″ Dinwiddie brought to the Buffaloes just couldn’t be replaced after he was lost. A team that was good enough to defeat NCAA entrants Harvard, Kansas and Oregon only managed two more middling wins against NCAA teams the rest of the season (Arizona State and Stanford). The biggest problem for the Buffs without Dinwiddie was with their offense, and today’s game certainly exhibited many of those issues. Josh Scott (14 points) and Xavier Johnson (11 points) eventually hit their averages, but the rest of the team was a terribly inefficient 6-of-27 from the floor. Much of that is attributable to Pitt’s defense, of course, but it’s also nothing new for the Buffaloes.
- Pitt Could Give Florida Some Problems. Pitt has been a team that many pundits had trouble believing in all season because of their lack of quality wins, but over the course of the past couple of weeks, they’ve started to earn some believers. A solid ACC Tournament performance that included a win over North Carolina and a close loss to #1 seed Virginia, in addition to today’s emasculation of Colorado, should give Billy Donovan some pause as he projects his next opponent in Orlando on Saturday. The Panthers’ defense has not been as consistent as Jamie Dixon would have liked this season, but Pitt’s last four opponent have all been held under the magical 1.0 points per possession, a significant improvement. If you figure that Florida will be able to lock up the likes of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna on Saturday, it’s not unreasonable to expect that the Panthers could do the same, ultimately resulting in a low-scoring slugfest that would give Pitt a fighter’s chance to win. It’s worth considering.
Star of the Game. Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh. The Panthers’ big man set the tone very early in the game, with an 8-0 run all by himself right at the rim that pushed Pitt’s lead to 13-0 and effectively ended the game. He finished the contest with 18 points on 6-0f-7 shooting along with 6-of-6 from the line, while supporting the cause with five rebounds.
Sights & Sounds. Both schools brought relatively small contingents with them to Orlando this weekend, but the building was predictably filled with Florida fans awaiting the second game of the afternoon session. Perhaps the oddest sight of the day, however, was found in the Amway Center food court, where a wayward Michigan State fan – — completely decked out, mind you — was eating his lunch. His team is playing 3,000 miles away in Spokane today, but that didn’t deter him, apparently.
What’s Next? Pittsburgh will get some rest as it awaits the winner of the #1/#16 battle between Florida and Albany this afternoon. Odds are that the Panthers will already be prepping for the Gators in that one.