No Steven Adams? No problems for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Facing instate rivals, the Penn State Nittany Lions for the first time since 2005 senior Talib Zanna had a big man’s dream game – dominating in the second half to help lead the Panthers to a 78-69 victory.
Zanna and fellow senior Lamar Patterson both scored 16 to pace the Panthers, and Patterson certainly help fuel the second half charge – but it was all Zanna when it counted. After only scoring two points in the first half, Zanna scored 14 in the second and no matter who Penn State put in front of him one thing was clear – he wasn’t going to be stopped.
Despite rotating players on him, all three of Penn State’s starting forward all came within one foul of fouling out – a lot them on Zanna.
A physical force that Penn State just couldn’t contain, Zanna collected ten rebounds as well as blocked four shots. Listed at 6’9, he certainly played much, much larger than so – as evident by his tenth rebound, getting high enough to where he might have been able to compete for the ball against any other player in college.
If Pitt had their way, Zanna would be a secondary option to Adams – who bolted to the NBA after one year but with him gone Zanna has filled that role perfectly. His double-double against the Nittany Lions was his third of the season and as the Panthers get closer to ACC play his continued progression will be critical.
One thing is for sure, while you can say Pitt isn’t on the same level as some of the teams in the ACC, but after watching last night’s game you know you can still say about this team – any team that plays Pitt better be ready for a fight.
That’s something that could sneak them a few wins in ACC play this year if a team comes unprepared. That style of play certainly tired out the Nittany Lions.
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