Back on Jan. 12, the Golden Eagles secured a 74-67 victory over Pittsburgh, but the most impressive part of the win was the fact that Marquette did so on the road. However, Pittsburgh starting point guard Tray Woodall was hobbled early in the loss and did not return from injury in the game.
That was a huge factor for the Panthers throughout the contest and most notably, down the stretch and into overtime. At 10.9 points per game, Woodall is the team’s leading scorer, however, he has only scored 20+ on two separate occasions this season. Woodall needs to have a big game on Saturday as Pittsburgh makes the return trip to Marquette.
The implications in this contest atop the Big East Conference are crucial for both sides, so you know it’s going to be a battle. In addition to Woodall, the Panthers could use another double-digit offensive performance from forward Talib Zanna, as a recent 11-point showing last weekend represented his first such performance since Jan. 8.
If Zanna can get going inside and Woodall can get going on the perimeter, the Panthers have the depth and talent around them to score enough points to upset the Golden Eagles on the road. However, Woodall’s importance is more relevant than Zanna’s simply because of the small impact he had the first time these two squads met. Albeit, that was because of the injury he sustained.
Woodall has been healthy and only missed one game from that injury, so his importance in winning the battle against Junior Cadougan could tell a lot on the final scoreboard.
Tip-off between these two is scheduled for 1:00pm (EST).
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS