In the preseason this looked like a good way to end the season. And for the second consecutive season, those who scheduled the preseason favorites for a last weekend showdown and sold it to the networks had to be disappointed. Last season this was the West Virginia game at the (then...) Wachovia Center for a game that saw West Virginia climb out of a 13 point hole to beat a struggling Villanova team by 2 in overtime. This season with Villanova again struggling, the 'Cats traveled to the Peterson Event Center to face #1 (in conference play) Pittsburgh. With a gameplan that asked the team to run down the clock and let the guads penetrate, Villanova managed to hold their deficit to four at the half, and with a seven minute rally to start the second half, the 'Cats took the lead 30-29 on a modest 12-7 run. But the fouls and turnovers mounted, and a technical on Isaiah Armwood put the Panthers on the line for four consecutive free throws (all converted) which pushed Pitt's lead into double digits. And there it stayed through the last minute of the game.
The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "No. 19 Wildcats Defeated...". The breakdown by halves...
|Opponent:||Notre Dame University|
Down Four at the Half...
The pace, especially 23-24 possessions in the first half borders on shocking. Though Pitt prefers deliberate play (Gary McGhee, etc.), I was surprised at the 55 computed possession rate. Pomeroy may show 54 possessions, but the effect is the same -- this game was second only to West Virginia's 52 possession game on February 5, and only the third game all season played in the 50s -- the third game by the way, was the first Pittsburgh game. I do not have time right now (deadlines all weekend on other projects) to look at the player's numbers, but I am curious to see if the back court was as dominant with the ball as some within the Nova Nation suggest.
Pittsburgh logged a 27-4 overall record for the regular season, with a #1 15-3 record conference play, good for the #1 seed in New York City. The Panthers will play next on Thursday, facing either DePaul, Georgetown or Connecticut, the survivor of Tuesday & Wednesday play. Villanova's record drops to 21-10 overall and 9-9 in conference play, good for the #10 seed in the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats open against #15 seed South Florida Tuesday night, the survivor to face #7 Cincinnati on Wednesday.