Pitt Vs. Illinois-Chicago: Panthers Cruise To Easy Victory

Pitt easily beat UIC Wednesday night.

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Panthers Guard Play And Rebounding Keys To Victory

Pitt defeated Illinois-Chicago handily – mostly due to its guard play and rebounding.

Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker led the way for the second consecutive game with a combined 41 points. Both are averaging more than 20 points on the season. After the game, Gibbs and Wanamaker talked a little about their strategy:

“I was taking advantage of what the defense was giving me,” Gibbs said. “I tried to find open spots and when I did, I knocked down 3s.”

Gibbs, coming off a 22-point game against Rhode Island, is averaging 23 points and Wanamaker is averaging 20.5.

“I’m more of a driver and a playmaker and Ashton’s a spot-up shooter, but he’s been creating his own shots so it makes him more dangerous,” Wanamaker said. “When you have two players constantly attacking you, it puts people on their heels.”

Clearly it’s only two games, but both players are on a roll. Good guard play is something that’s needed to advance deep into the NCAA tournament and so far, Pitt is getting it.

UIC head coach Howard Moore was clearly impressed:

“Wanamaker just said he’s going to get in there and make plays, and get to the rim and find teammates,” Illinois-Chicago head coach Howard Moore said after the game. “He absolutely did that. Gibbs was like an assassin out there offensively. I thought they did a tremendous job playing off each other.”

Moore was also impressed with Pitt’s big men and, surprisingly, also recruited Pitt center Gary McGhee while he was a coach at Wisconsin:

“You have big bodies like center Gary McGhee in there trying to disrupt you and be a force inside. He does a great job. I recruited him when I was at Wisconsin. I thought he could have been a great Big Ten player, but he’s a great kid. He’s really bought into what coach Dixon wants him to do. I thought Pitt did a good job of just playing outside inside basketball. When McGhee and Dante Taylor get going in the post they are tough. Because you have to worry so much about the guards it really leaves that middle open. When those guys get the ball inside they are pretty effective. I thought they did a good job of playing inside outside basketball.”

Rebounding was the other key to the game. UIC ranked 327th in the country last season with a -6 rebounding differential per game. Since crashing the boards is such a strength for Pitt, this looked like it could be a mismatch. That was the case as Pitt outrebounded UIC 45-25.

Pitt played nearly perfectly in every facet of the game. The team shot about 60% from the field, rebounded extremely well, and only turned the ball over six times. When the Panthers play that well, they will be nearly impossible to beat.

For more post-game analysis, check out the post-game report at Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.

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Pitt Vs. Illinois-Chicago: Gibbs, Wanamaker Lead Pitt To Blowout Win

Sports Network | November 10, 2010

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Ashton Gibbs scored 24 points with seven assists and Brad Wanamaker donated 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds, as fifth-ranked Pittsburgh rolled past Illinois-Chicago, 97-54, as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

Gilbert Brown added 12 points and six rebounds, while Travon Woodall contributed 10 points in the victory. The unselfish Panthers (2-0) assisted on 27 of 37 made baskets in the rout.

K.C. Robbins led Illinois-Chicago (0-1) with 12 points and five rebounds, while Robo Kreps added seven points in defeat.

The Panthers, off a narrow victory over Rhode Island, got off to a quick start as they jumped out to a 9-2 lead capped by two Brown free throws. Woodall stepped into a three-pointer and found the bottom of the net to increase the lead to 22-6 just over seven minutes in. Brown’s layup nearing the eight- minute mark opened a 28-11 lead, as Illinois-Chicago had just five field goals in the first 12 minutes.

Daniel Barnes’ three-pointer narrowed the margin to 39-25, and Pittsburgh held the 14-point lead at 43-29 after 20 minutes of game action.

The second half was more of the same as the Panthers piled on. A 9-0 scoring stretch early in the second half opened a 55-31 lead. Illinois-Chicago cut the deficit to 20 points at 62-42, but the Panthers reeled off nine points in succession capped by Talib Zanna’s slam dunk for a 71-42 lead. Pittsburgh cruised to victory from there.

This was the first-ever meeting between the two schools…The Panthers shot 57.8 percent from the floor and drained 11-of-21 from beyond the arc…On the flip side, Illinois-Chicago made just 37.9 percent of its shots

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Pitt Vs. Illinois-Chicago: Panthers Basketball Looks To Win Second Straight Game

Pitt expects to have a much easier time with the University of Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday than it did in its opener against Rhode Island.

UIC is, to put it bluntly, not a very good team. The Flames were 8-22 last season and an abysmal 1-15 on the road. Its only road win was a two-point victory over Evansville. UIC has, however, had some recent success - in the past five seasons, the team has recorded wins over Butler, Georgia Tech (twice), Northern Iowa, DePaul, Davidson, and other BCS-conference teams such as Northwestern, Oregon State, and Mississippi.

UIC also returns its top two scorers from last season in guards Robo Krebs and Zavion Neely. Both players combined to average more than 27 points per game. The Flames also have a new head coach in former Wisconsin Badgers player and assistant coach Howard Moore. Moore has taken to implementing Wisconsin's system:

Because Moore imported Wisconsin’s swing offense and hard-nosed man-to-man defense not to mention Bo Ryan’s son, Matt, as his director of basketball operations the crash course began in the video room.

"The first week he was here, we got three DVDs of Wisconsin," said sophomore forward Anthony Kelley from Aurora Central. "Wisconsin in a single game playing against Milwaukee. Then they had a breakdown of the swing and another breakdown of the swing.

Like Pitt, UIC has stressed defense under coach Moore. But unlike Pitt, the team was one of the worst rebounding programs in all of college basketball last season, finishing 327th in rebounding margin. Pitt's starting big men Gary McGhee and Talib Zanna should have a field day on the boards.

Pitt had its hands full with Rhode Island, which is an A-10 team and was an NIT semifinalist last season. But this game should be significantly easier. This is also UIC's first game and, as Pitt did in its opener on Monday, will likely show some signs of rust. I expect a big Pitt win.

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