Going Out In Style

Pitt finished its regular season with dominance not seen in a while in a 29-point win over Rutgers. I've got to say I expected a little bit more of a contest, but it was never close other than the first few minutes of the game.

Rutgers coach Fred Hill seemed to think Rutgers was walking into a trap...and he was right:
"I had a feeling that a game like today was going to happen," Rutgers head coach Fred Hill said. "A lot of our guys had been playing upwards of 38 minutes a game and I think we tired a little today. We had a short turn around and we got outplayed today. My worst nightmare came true. We were a little worn down and we need to just throw this game out and move on. I give Pitt credit, they came out on senior night and jumped out to a quick start. They got the crowd into it and controlled their emotions."
And Rutgers was visibly frustrated during the game:
"I said it at halftime, faces started changing," said senior center Hamady N'diaye. "You could tell that the team was falling apart. I said it; all I ask for was to give out the effort. During this entire year, I've thought everybody had the same mentality and that wasn't the case today."
I like to pull out negatives from each game and offer reasons why Pitt could have played better. But it's hard to complain even a little about the performance today.

Shoot well? Check (48% from the field, 41% from three-point range)

Rebound? Check (+20: 39-19)

Take care of the ball? Check (Only 7 turnovers)

Get everyone involved offensively? Check (five players in double figures)

Play defense? Check (Held Rutgers to 54 points on 40% shooting)

Like I said, Pitt played well all around and it was utter domination.

I've got no answer for the whole Gilbert Brown thing. He's been feast or famine on and off for 12 straight now. Literally. He's been in double figures every other game. Like I mentioned before, I'd take him him averaging a steady 12-13 a game rather than 20 one game and 0 the next.

Dante Taylor really had somewhat of a breakout game. He's been playing better lately and acknowledged some frustration early on and pointed out the possible turning point:
"It felt good. I did what I do every game and I went in there and played as hard as I could. Tonight was a confidence boost for me. My confidence was down in the beginning of the season when I wasn’t contributing, but it started to come back for me at Marquette when I had three dunks."
Today was the best maybe I've seen him all season. He had a good game against Syrcause, but even in games he's put up decent numbers, he's looked awkward at times. He took his game to another level today and looked really aggressive on the boards and getting to the basket. There were plenty of glimpses today of what the future should hold - and it looks bright.

And then of course, there was the whole Senior Day story. I've criticized Jermaine Dixon at times for not being consistent enough, at least offensively, this year. He definitely has had his share of bad games this year, but he's incredibly valuable defensively and Pitt will miss that. And about that injury, Dixon doesn't think it's that bad:
The only downside to Pitt's victory was guard Jermaine Dixon being lifted with a sore right ankle early in the second half, after he scored 10 points in 12 minutes. Dixon missed the first eight games of the season after twice breaking his right foot, but he insisted this injury is minor. "I could have played, but we had the game," said Dixon, who was coming off a 24-point game against Providence. "I'm good. I'll be ready [for Thursday]."
Even though there have been struggles offensively, Dixon has been a stabilizing force for Pitt this year and it's safe to say that he was a big part in getting the team to gel together early on.

There was another bright spot today, Pitt wrapped up the #2 seed in the Big East tournament with WVU's win over Villanova. Not that any path in the tournament will be easy, but it's really pretty unbelievable that Pitt was able to finish that high in the conference.

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