Walker, UConn in perfect position at the half
You’re seeing just how loaded and even teams in the Big East conference are right now. Ninth-seeded Connecticut has rallied from as much as 11 down and trails 41-40 at halftime. Ashton Gibbs leads regular season champion Pittsburgh with 16 points, while Kemba Walker is playing the leadership role to perfect and has 13 for UConn.
For Pitt to hold on in the second half: It has to make smarter passes in the paint. The Panthers opened up a nice cushion thanks to penetration and dishes from Gibbs and Brad Wannamaker. It confused UConn’s bigs, who have pretty much taken the first two days off at the Big East tournament, playing against out-of-sync offenses in DePaul and Georgetown. Pitt is shooting 60 percent but allowed easy transition opportunities with careless passes in the second half of the first 20 minutes.
For UConn to win: It needs to keep getting easy baskets in transition. There’s no better team in the open floor, whether it’s Walker or Shabazz Napier taking directly to the tin on breakaways. The Huskies had 10 points in transition in the last five minutes alone and have forced seven turnovers at the break. Walker has been much more efficient than when he went 10 of 27 in the loss to Pitt in December. He has 13 points on just seven shots. If UConn’s bigs can keep holding down Gary McGahee, who has laid down goose eggs across the stat sheet, it could very well send Pitt to its third straight quarterfinal exit.