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Panther of the Week: Talib Zanna

Zanna breaks Patterson's streak with two strong performances

Lamar Patterson tries to talk Talib Zanna into giving him another Panther of the Week Award.
Lamar Patterson tries to talk Talib Zanna into giving him another Panther of the Week Award.
Scott Cunningham

Well the streak is finally over for Lamar Patterson on this website. Despite two strong second halves for the Lancaster, PA senior, Talib Zanna earns the honor this week with his steady play. Zanna was a beast in a big 81-74 road win over Georgia Tech and in the tough 59-54 loss at Syracuse on Saturday. Due to his consistency and some early second half foul trouble against the Orange by James Robinson, Zanna was able to beat out a few different players this week for the Panther of the Week.

During the week, the 6'9" center barely missed two double-doubles. This is great news for Pitt fans considering Zanna's history in conference play and the question marks at center coming into the year. The big man has usually played well in non-conference games, but has slipped somewhat in years past once the big games started. That does not seem to be the case this season, as he has only stepped up during the early ACC schedule and has helped Pitt to where they stand now: with a strong 16-2 record and 4-1 in the ACC.

It began early in the week against Georgia Tech where Patterson struggled through a miserable first half and the Panthers trailing by three at halftime. Zanna was a force down low and just missed a double-double. Instead the Nigeria native had to "settle" for 22 points and nine rebounds. Zanna also added in a steal just for fun. One great thing that also stood out on the stat sheet for him was a big fat in zero turnovers. When a big man in the middle turns the ball over near the basket, there is not much worse, so it is nice to see Zanna put up a big goose egg in that department.

The consistency continued for him in upstate New York on Saturday during a heartbreaking 5-point loss to the Orange. Despite a bad first half for Patterson and some early second half foul trouble for Robinson, Zanna was there to make sure Pitt didn't go away (though a special shout out does have to go to Patterson for his 3-point shooting in the second half too). Zanna came away with a double-double, as he left the Carrier Dome with 12 points and 11 rebounds during the game. The big man also showed off his all-around game with an assist. All of this good play, despite the down low presence of Rakeem Christmas for the Orange.

Patterson's early season domination has over-shadowed a nice year so far for Zanna. He is averaging just shy of 13 points this year and over eight rebounds per game. If Zanna can keep up his consistency, Pitt will be able to slowly work in Derrick Randall and even get a few minutes per game for Joseph Uchebo so he can build up his knee to where it should be. That will be huge once Zanna leaves the Panthers after this season due to graduation.

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