I thoroughly enjoyed the Pittsburgh v. UConn game last night. Pittsburgh led most of the game, lost the lead briefly at the end and then clawed back on top to win 76-68.
The 263 pound heavyweight bout (that's 526 lbs combined!) between UConn's 7'3" C Hasheem Thabeet and Pitt's 6'7" PF DeJuan Blair determined the outcome of this game. With Thabeet's inbox stuffed with valentines, including one from our own Big BM, few gave the sophomore Blair a chance.
Instead, Blair used his leverage and strength to bruise Thabeet. Blair flipped Thabeet over his back, using Thabeet's arm as the lever. Understand: Blair flipped a 263 pound man over his back with a twist of his hips. Thabeet was ineffective after that play; fouls kept him on the bench.
Pitt's Sam Young (25 pts) said of Thabeet, "I think the intimidation was gone after he got flipped over DeJuan's back."
Blair, who slimmed down after his freshman season, had a double-double in the first half and finished with 22 points and 23 rebounds. Thabeet's only block -- he's been averaging over 4 per game -- was on an ill-advised Blair fadeaway. Blair retrieved the ball, put his shoulder down and rocked Thabeet's solar plexus to the hoop. And one. Blair made the free throw.
This is only the first round of the Blair v. Thabeet heavyweight fight. The teams meet again in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. And then probably again in the Big East tournament. And quite possibly in the Big Dance. This could develop into one of the best big-men matchups in years.