Behind Taylor, Pitt pounds USF, 64-44
By Kevin Gorman
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:06 p.m.
Dante Taylor hadn't been in double figures in scoring or rebounding since mid-December, so the Pitt backup center was thrilled to double his pleasure against South Florida.
Taylor finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds — his first double-double of the season — to lead No. 23 Pitt to a 64-44 victory over USF on Wednesday night in a Big East game at Petersen Events Center.
“It feels real good,” Taylor said. “I've been working hard the last few weeks in practice, so I just tried to carry it over into these last few games. Especially to get that one, this being the second-to-last home game, I just tried to come out and play hard.”
It was the third time this season Taylor has scored in double figures but the first in 19 games, since a 16-point effort against North Florida on Dec. 8, and his first double-double of the season. Taylor was averaging 4.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.6 minutes.
“Yeah, I don't know what that is,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “I was certainly hoping he'd get his four or five points a game and that was it. He had a good game. He's a senior, and I'm sure he wants to finish his career on a high note, and that's got to be pretty encouraging for Pitt to see that light bulb come on and have him turn on at the end of the year.
“That gives them a nice little plus on that front line.”
It was also a double-double for the Panthers (22-7, 10-6), who reached double-digit wins in conference play for the 11th time in 12 seasons and won their second consecutive game by more than 10 points. They beat St. John's by 16 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The loss was the 10th consecutive for USF (10-17, 1-14). It also marked the fifth time Pitt has held a Big East opponent to fewer than 50 points this season. That includes their next opponent, Villanova, which visits Sunday in the final home game of the season.
Under orders from Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to play a freelancing style, the Panthers shot 41.7 percent (20 of 48) from the field, including 59.1 percent (13 of 22) in the second half. They also held a decisive rebounding edge, 42-25, and benefited from 7-foot freshman center Steven Adams' career-high five blocked shots. The Bulls shot 31.9 percent (15 of 47) from the field, including 6 of 23 in the second half, when they were 0 for 5 from 3-point range.
USF actually led by as many as eight points in the first half after a 7-0 run capped by Anthony Collins' alley-oop pass to Jawanza Poland for a reverse dunk made it 14-6 at 12:39. But Collins, who torched Pitt for 22 points in a 56-47 victory at the Pete last year, was scoreless until sinking two free throws with 5:41 remaining and didn't make a field goal until the 3:39 mark. He finished 2 of 8 for six points.
“Our team got off to a good start, but we couldn't sustain it,” Heath said. “It seemed like we had a hard time finishing a lot of plays, making some layups or short shots and just couldn't get anything going.
“They made some nice adjustments to bottle up the lane, and their size and physicality create some problems, too.”
Taylor, a 6-foot-9 senior, was the catalyst in Pitt's comeback, giving the Panthers their first lead on a tip-in at 6:37 of the first half to start an 8-0 run.
Pitt took a 26-25 lead into halftime but saw it evaporate early in the second half when Zanna tipped in a Victor Rudd shot at 16:04. Pitt answered with a 16-0 run — Taylor scored four pivotal points — for a 44-30 advantage.
“That's one of our senior leaders,” said Pitt fifth-year senior guard Tray Woodall, who scored a team-high 14 points. “A lot of his baskets were in great moments, great spurts, which we needed — and I'm sure he knew that. He played as hard and he picked guys up. That was great to see.”
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.