*** Pitt snapped a five-game losing streak with one of its best performances of the season. Is this a hint that the Panthers are back to their late-January, post-Tray Woodall back in the lineup form? Or is it another tease from a team that had trouble getting the ball across midcourt for stretches of the second half?
I’d say somewhere in between. Jamie Dixon said after the game that Pitt was playing as well as they had all season.
“We played very well against a team that had been playing very good basketball,” Dixon said. “We took good shots consistently. I can count only one or two shots that I thought were questionable. That was a great sign for us.
“I feel like we are playing better basketball. We are playing as good a basketball as we’ve played all year. We’re just going to go forward from here and get ready for Saturday.
“It’s a good sign for us as we are playing better here at this point in the year. We’ve had everybody at practice for the last couple of days and that’s been a new thing for us.”
**** Dixon remaind perplexed by the sloppy press breaking. Pitt had 16 turnovers, including some ugly, head-scratching miscues in the backcourt during St. John’s second-half press.
“Somethings we’ve just got to improve on,” Dixon said of the press breaking. “I just can’t believe that we haven’t gotten better in that area. It’s held us back all year long. That’s something we’ve really got to do better next game.”
**** While not looking past Connecticut on Saturday, Pitt seniors Nasir R0binson and Ashton Gibbs said it was good to build a little late-season momentum.
“It was a real good start,” Robinson said. “We did a good job sharing the ball and getting a lot of guys involved. It was a good start for us.”
Added Gibbs, “We are definitely confident. Everybody is in the gym every day trying to get better. Even though we have some losses this year, we still have a positive mindset, especially going into Saturday and going into the Big East Tournament. We’ve just got to carry this momentum and carry it forward.”
**** Pitt lost on its official Senior Night, on Sunday, Feb. 19 against USF, but the seniors left with a win in their final home game (assuming no NIT, CIT, or CBI home dates). Nick Rivers even got to play the final two minutes — after some “We want Rivers” chants from the Zoo. Rivers, a fan favorite, filled the stat sheet with a field goal attempt, 1-2 from the line, a rebound, and a turnover.
“Even though this is a tough year, there are some good memories here,” Gibbs said. “It starts with the fans and that’s one of the reasons I came to the University of Pittsburgh. This is a big sports city. I give credit to the Oakland Zoo and the fans around here.”
**** Dante Taylor scored a career-high 17 points on 8 for 8 shooting. He had five dunks. After scoring 11 points against Louisville, Taylor has as many double-digit scoring Big East games in the past four days as his first 49 Big East games combined.
“I just tried to come into this game and carry it over from the last game and be aggressive and do whatever I can to help the team out. I was able to finish around the basket,” Taylor said. “I rebounded. I just tried to come in with confidence going into this game and the next game and hopefully carry it over to the tournament.”
**** J.J. Moore scored 14 points, making 3 of 4 3-point attempts. He also went 5 for 6 from the free throw line.
“It starts with my teammates,” Moore said. “I feed off of them. I’m in the gym working on my shot. My teammates have confidence in me and I have confidence in myself right now.”
*** Gibbs, who was 5 for 23 from the field and 0 for 9 from 3-point range in the past three games, went 7 for 14 from the field.