Sunday, February 21, 2010
Pitt exacts Elite Eight revenge with win over Villanova
By Dana O'Neil
PITTSBURGH -- No surprise here. Pitt versus Villanova was feisty, scrappy, at times flat-out ugly and entertaining to the last minute. The 70-65 win is a huge boon to the credibility and resume of a once-again soaring Pitt team that remains almost impossible to beat at home.
More to come in a column shortly but here are a few immediate reactions:
What makes this Pitt team so dangerous is that it doesn't have a superstar. Every player plays hard and every player can hurt you -- Gilbert Brown off the bench, Gary McGhee underneath, Ashton Gibbs and Jermaine Dixon from the backcourt. They play like all Pitt teams -- hard and gritty -- and will be a very tough out come tourney time.
Gary McGhee is one of most unsung players in the Big East. He plays yeoman's minutes in the post and does every little piece of work you need him to do. He had 10 critical rebounds against Villanova and hit 3 of 4 free throws.
Count Scottie Reynolds out at your own risk. The Villanova guard was all but swarmed by Jermaine Dixon but finished with 20 points and nearly scared the bejesus out of the Pitt crowd when he hit back to back 3s late in the second half.
Pitt now moves into a third-place tie with West Virginia and with a favorable four games to come -- at Notre Dame, at St. John's, home against Providence and Rutgers -- could easily sneak even higher into the final Big East standings. That's astounding for a team that lost so much and was picked ninth in the league.
The road, meantime, doesn't get easier for Villanova. The Cats have a home date this week against South Florida, then travel for the showdown in Syracuse, to desperate Cincinnati before finishing up with West Virginia at home. It's a tough finish for a very good team and could go one of two ways for the Cats: toughen them up for March or exhaust them. Will be interesting to see which way it goes.