WASHINGTON DC- JANUARY 12: Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers takes a jump shot during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on January 12 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC. The Panthers won 72-57. (Photo by Mitchell LaytonGetty Images)

Pitt Vs. DePaul: Panthers Blow Out Blue Demons On Road, 80-50

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Pitt Vs. DePaul: Panthers Run Big East Record To 7-0

Pitt started off a bit slowly, allowing DePaul to hang around for the first ten minutes of the first half. But after a 10-10 start, Pitt took the lead for good and the rout was on. The Panthers won their seventh straight road game 80-50, and the outcome was never really in doubt.

Gilbert Brown, who’s looking more and more like an NBA prospect, led the way again with 17 points on 6-13 shooting. It’s not just his scoring that’s been making headlines, but his defense, as he came up with another outstanding blocked shot. Ashton Gibbs also helped out a bit. He scored 13 points and tallied his 1,000th career point as a Panther. That 1,000th point came on, what else, a three-pointer. With that basket, Gibbs became the 38th Panther in the school’s history to top the 1,000-point mark.

Heading into the game, it appeared as the rebounding battle would be a huge mismatch as Pitt was one of the nation’s best rebounding teams while DePaul is one of the worst. That proved to be true as Pitt outrebounded DePaul 46-29. Gary McGhee led the way with a career-high 15 boards. He’s not scoring all that much, but that’s not what Pitt needs from him. Defense and rebounding should be his first priorities and that’s exactly what he’s doing for the team.

Pitt also did a good job defensively on DePaul’s star, Cleveland Melvin. Melvin had scored at least 20 points in six of his past seven games, but he had his worst Big East game against Pitt, going for only 11 points on 4-13 shooting from the field.

DePaul isn’t one of the conference’s best teams … in fact, they may be the worst. But whenever you hold a conference foe to 50 points on the road, you’re doing something right. Pitt hasn’t gotten to the point where they’re distancing themselves from other Big East teams, but it’s hard to dispute that they are looking like its best team right now.

Pitt is due to take a big step up in the rankings this week as well with losses by No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Syracuse. The Panthers could be as high as No. 2 in the new ESPN/USA Today poll on Monday. Pitt now gets one day off before a Big Monday showdown against No. 16 Notre Dame.

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Pitt Vs. DePaul: Panthers Look To Remain Undefeated In Big East Play

Pitt heads on the road to face DePaul on Saturday. Coincidentally, the Panthers go from playing to what had been considered by many to be the best Big East team in Syracuse to potentially the worst in the Blue Demons. A letdown from the team's big win against Syracuse might be the only thing that can stop the Panthers from bringing home a win.

This game contrasts two teams headed in decidedly different directions. Pitt is 18-1, undefeated in conference play, possibly the best team in the Big East, and fighting for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. DePaul, meanwhile, is 6-12, winless in conference play, quite possibly the worst team in the league, and has little chance of reaching even the NIT, let alone the NCAAs.

DePaul doesn't have many stars, but one player Pitt will need to keep an eye on is freshman Cleveland Melvin. Melvin averages nearly 15 points a game and has scored at least 20 in six of DePaul's last seven games. Over that stretch, he's had some extraordinary games for a rookie in the nation's toughest conference, including a 29-point game against Georgetown on the road and a 25-point game against UConn. This past week, he was named the conference's top rookie for the third time in the past four weeks.

The Blue Demons should be wary of Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs. Gibbs is only 11 points shy of becoming the 38th Pitt player with 1,000 career points. He will probably come out firing and look to get past the milestone as quickly as possible.

The Panthers cannot afford to relax in this game as no conference foe offers the guarantee of a win. DePaul has struggled in-conference this season but nearly beat West Virginia at home. But if Pitt plays even a solid game, the team should remain undefeated in the Big East.

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