DeJuan Blair showed me something Monday night, as he completely dominated Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien to propel Pitt over UConn 76-68.
Blair finished with 22 points and 23 rebounds and Sam Young scored an effortless 25 points for the Panthers.
Although Thabeet was hampered somewhat by foul trouble, he was clearly unable to match Blair’s craftiness and strength inside. Despite being at least six inches shorter than Thabeet, Blair scored repeatedly in the lane and dominated the boards.
Thabeet finished with just five points, four rebounds, and two blocks in 23 minutes.
UConn built a lead early in the second half behind A.J. Price, who made several big shots. Price finished with 18 points and eight assists but had just one basket in the final 10 minutes as the Huskies relinquished the lead.
I wasn’t surprised at Young’s performance. Without Jerome Dyson, the Huskies didn’t have anyone able to match his size and quickness.
But I couldn’t believe how easily Blair completely worked over Thabeet. He showed some nice post moves and the ability to finish with both hands around the basket.
The loss dropped UConn to 24-2 overall and 12-2 in the Big East. The Huskies have a difficult schedule ahead and need to find a third option offensively without Dyson. Instead of looking to force the ball inside to Thabeet, Adrien should get more touches. He is much more skilled offensively than the sloth-like Thabeet.
Pitt has a somewhat easy schedule to close out the Big East regular-season. The Panthers improved to 24-2 overall and 12-2 in the Big East.
These two teams will meet again on March. 7th in Pittsburgh.