Pitt's Moore shows improvement since Cincinnati loss
The Big East opener against Cincinnati represented a low point for J.J. Moore, as it was the only game this season that the Pitt junior power forward was held scoreless.
Moore since has become one of the most consistent players, albeit out of a reserve role, for the No. 23 Panthers (19-5, 7-4 Big East), who visit the No. 17 Bearcats (18-5, 6-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Fifth Third Arena.
“We're definitely a big spark plug,” Moore said of the substitutes in Pitt's 10-man rotation. “I'm coming in to give a spark.”
The Panthers might need that spark sooner from Moore if starter Talib Zanna, who turned his ankle Thursday and didn't finish practice, is limited or can't play against the Bearcats.
It shouldn't affect Pitt's scoring much either way. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Moore is averaging 7.2 points in the 10 games since that 70-61 loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 31 at Petersen Events Center. That's better than Zanna's 6.6 average in the same span. The 6-9, 230-pound Zanna, however, has averaged twice as many rebounds — 5.4 to 2.7 — as Moore.
Their differences can wear on opposing power forwards, who have to withstand Zanna's size and Moore's speed.
“It's definitely affecting them,” Moore said. “Talib is down low. When I come, I'm more outside and giving them a lot more to worry about. If they decide to play off me, I shoot the 3. If they don't, one of my teammates is going to the hole and getting an and-one bucket.”
Moore proved that he could score last season when he averaged 11.8 points in the final 13 games and had a career-high 21 against South Florida. He has scored in double figures seven times this season, including a 14-point performance Jan. 5 at Rutgers.
Dixon pushed Moore to concentrate on playing better defense, and that is where his improvement has been most noticeable. Where Zanna brings rebounding to the four spot, Moore adds an element of quickness that benefits him when playing help defense.
“The biggest part is just going out there and defending,” Moore said. “Last year I wasn't really a good defender. I picked it up throughout the year, through the summer, and (I'm) just going out there and taking pride in our defense.”
Dixon credited Moore for using his athleticism to cause turnovers against Seton Hall by disrupting passing lanes and preventing perimeter shooting from forwards Brandon Mobley and Brian Oliver.
Pitt needs a strong game from Moore against Cincinnati, which scored the most points (70) in regulation against the Panthers of any Big East team this season while also enjoying a 37-32 rebounding edge.
Dixon seems confident that he can count on Moore, especially on defense, this time.
“I really think he's doing a good job defensively,” Dixon said. “He's taking charges, he's very active on rotations, and I think he's been a big part of our improvement defensively. You can see the energy he plays with, and he's a much more valuable defender this year for us in that role.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Latest loss has Panthers looking for answers
- Pitt notebook: Chryst says Voytik may be overthinking
- Pitt notebook: Average yards allowed good, but there’s room for improvement
- Pitt notebook: Cornerback issues emblematic of Panthers’ woes