Score: Villanova 64, Pitt 63
Player of the Game: Malcolm Grant 22 pts, 4-7 3-pt
Recap: Villanova overcame Pittsburgh by one point in a thriller at the Pavilion behind Malcolm Grant's stellar performance. Grant took over, remenisicent of the LSU game. He led all scorers with 22 points, hitting big shot after big shot. He brings so much energy and seems to really feed off of the crowd. When the fans were cheering the loudest, he came through by making a big 3-pointer. From this and the LSU game it is clear that Grant is a clutch performer and flat-out winner, which begs questions about Corey Fisher. Fisher had only 4 points and 1 assist against Pitt and only had 2 points against LSU, while his best games have come in Villanova losses: 21 points vs. NC St. and 23 points vs. DePaul. It may be too early to tell, but I hope Fisher isn't one of those players who puts up great stats, but can't lead his team to victory.
In the end turnovers were the cause of Pitt's downfall. They had 22 turnovers in the game, which was due in a lagre part to the injury of point guard Levance Fields. No Villanova starter scored in double figures, and the continued struggles of Scottie Reynolds are somewhat puzzling. Reynolds was held to 4 points on 1-6 shooting (0-5 3-pt), although he did have 4 assists, and made the pass to Dante Cunningham which led to the foul call and the winning free throws. Reynolds seems to have lost some confidence shooting the ball. He seemed to hesitate and pump fake the ball way too many times, instead of trusting his stroke and releasing quickly. I'm sure he'll grow out of this funk, but let's just hope it's sooner than later. Dante Cunningham stayed calm under pressure to make the tying and winning free throws. He had a quiet offensive night with only 6 points, but he cleaned up the glass with a team high 9 rebounds. Once again the absence of Casiem Drummond was felt, as the Wildcats had difficulty in containing DeJuan Blair who finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds, 7 of them offensive. Antonio Pena stepped up in a big way scoring 12 points off the bench, and was the only other Villanova player to score in double figures. He also had 4 rebounds and 3 steals, including the big steal in the final seconds to secure victory. Pena may have earned himself more playing time, especially with the continued struggles of Shane Clark who had 7 points, 3 rebounds in the game. I though he deserved it after the LSU game, but now Malcolm Grant will definitely see more minutes. He is the team's best 3-point shooter at 55%. He probably won't start, but will be a key sixth man because of the energy and scoring he brings into the game.
Next Game: Sat. January 12, 7:00 PM at Cincinnati