Usually when free throws enter the equation for Pitt, it’s not a good thing. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday as Pitt made a surprising 27-31 on their way to a 79-70 victory. The Panthers’ free throws accounted for 34 percent of their points, and it’s safe to say the game could have gone the other way had they failed to shoot an incredible 87 percent.
Leading the way were Ashton Gibbs and Tray Woodall, who were a perfect 19-of-19 from the stripe. The two combined for an amazing 54 points and were both 7-of-12 from the field. I’m not going to pretend I’ve seen all 300+ teams play this season, but Gibbs and Woodall have to be one of the best backcourts in the country. How Pitt fares the rest of the way this season will largely hinge on their effectiveness.
The one area the two need to get better? Turnovers. They had nine today (six by Woodall), and that’s too many. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the problem can get fixed by the end of the year. The Panthers have had games where they’ve taken care of the ball, but not with any great consistency.
It’s still too early to determine if Pitt can reach the NCAAs, but with each consecutive win, it’s looking more like a possibility.
The Panthers will now leave the confines of the Pete and head on the road for two crucial games this week. Pitt takes on South Florida on Wednesday and Seton Hall on Sunday.
For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation’s blog, Cardiac Hill.