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La Salle Vs. Pitt: Panthers Look To Get Back On Track Against Explorers

Dante Taylor and Pitt need to improve in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

It's safe to say that Pitt didn't expect to be sitting at 2-1 at this point in the season, but that's exactly where they are after an upset loss to Long Beach State last week. The Panthers also didn't look particularly impressive against Rider in the previous game and three games in, are hearing questions about just how good they are.

Now La Salle comes to town as the Panthers try to regroup. Playing at home, the Panthers will again be the favorites against the Explorers, but Pitt shouldn't rest on their laurels. La Salle is also 2-1, has averaged 80 points a game this season, and more importantly, took fellow Big East team Villanova to the brink of defeat. Playing on the road, La Salle fell to the Wildcats 76-69 in overtime and nearly began the season 3-0.

Pitt hasn't done a good job of rebounding at times and La Salle's frontcourt  could give him trouble. 6-foot-8 forwards Devon White and Jerrell Wright average nearly 14 rebounds per game and both are effective scorers as well. But La Salle has some talent in the backcourt as well. Sophomore guard Tyreek Duren has been the team's best player this season, averaging more than 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game. The Panthers had trouble with Long Beach State's Casper Ware, who went on to score a career-high 28 points. A similar outcome could happen if Pitt isn't able to contain Duren.

Another thing to look at may be the minutes freshmen center Malcolm Gilbert and forward/center Khem Birch get. After an early-season hand injury, Gilbert played briefly against Long Beach State in Pitt's last game. Birch only played four minutes last game, but with junior center Dante Taylor struggling, will Jamie Dixon allow his first-year players to play more?

Only time will tell.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.