The Panthers fell to the Bearcats 70-61 on Dec. 31 as the two teams opened conference action in a competitive battle.
Sean Kilpatrick had 16 points in the previous victory and had 15 by half-time as Cincinnati led 31-26 at the break. Pittsburgh would pick up their defense on the talented scorer in the second half, holding him to only one point as Kilpatrick would once again finish with 16 points against the Panthers.
Steven Adams, who went scoreless in the first contest, delivered a marvelous performance as the freshman continues to improve with each game. Adams has been developing his offensive game as of late, and finished with 13 points, to go along with four blocks, two rebounds and two assists.
Although Adams isn’t considered an offensive force by any means, he’s only shot under 50% from the field once in Pittsburgh’s last six games. The seven-foot center is getting more comfortable with the college game and could be the type of player that puts Pittsburgh on his back and carries them in March. His defensive presence is undeniable, proven by his four blocks, and if he can continue to contribute offensively, the Panthers will be a team nobody wants to match-up against when the Madness begins.
Pittsburgh showed off its depth against the Bearcats with nine of the 10 players that entered the contest recording at least two points. Durand Johnson was the only Panther not to record a point and it’s only because he never attempted a shot in his five minutes of action.
The deep Panthers roster is what allows the team to be a force defensively, routinely rotating in fresh bodies to ensure there’s no drop off in intensity. That type of luxury will be exactly why teams will fear playing the school once the marathon in March begins. As most teams rely on their starters along with a one or two bodies off the bench, the Panthers will be able to throw 10 bodies at the competition and be more than comfortable doing so.
Having the ability to keep everybody fresh will also limit the fatigue created by playing every other day in the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh are on a roll, winning seven of their last eight games and are looking like a team that isn’t about to slow down anytime soon.