After jumping out to a 17-point halftime lead, Pitt slumped a bit in the second half but hung on for an 81-71 win against Robert Morris.
The Panthers were again without the services of Lamar Patterson, serving the second and final game of his brief suspension for disciplinary reasons. They were also missing Dante Taylor for the second consecutive game, presumably as he still recovers from migranes.
Ashton Gibbs overcame a dismal 6-17 shooting night to put together a 21-point effort. Gibbs got seven of his points on free throws, showing exactly why he’s such a scoring threat. Even when he isn’t shooting particularly well (which isn’t all that often), he still can get to the free throw line where he’s able to contribute.
Khem Birch got another start in place of Taylor and put together a solid eight-point, 11-rebound effort.
But the big story was Pitt’s bench, which scored 29 points – a season high. Talib Zanna had a huge game with ten points and 15 rebounds and freshman Cam Wright chipped in with a career-high 13 points. Zanna’s an interesting case since his role will likely diminish with the return of Taylor. But if Dante continues to struggle, he may lose some of his minutes.
And while Tray Woodall didn’t have a great night shooting the ball (2-8 from the field), he had his fourth ten-assist game. He now has 51 on the season and is actually on pace to threaten the school record. I don’t know that Pitt has the offensive weapons in place to help him do that, but what he’s done so far is remarkable.
Next up for Pitt? The City Game on Wednesday night against Duquesne.
For more on Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog Cardiac Hill.