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South Carolina State Vs. Pitt: Panthers Win In First Game Without Khem Birch

After a tumultuous week in which freshman Khem Birch left the team, Pitt rebounded for a 69-55 win against South Carolina State at home.

The Panthers were led by Lamar Patterson for arguably the second straight game. Patterson, who nearly had a triple double against Oklahoma State in the team’s last game a week ago, had another strong game. He led the team in scoring with 16 points hitting seven of his 11 shots from the field. Patterson also added six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal in the game.

Pitt was without Birch who left the program and were forced to bring Malcolm Gilbert into duty. But the big story off the bench was Talib Zanna. Zanna has started to come into his own this season and had a double double with 12 points and 14 rebounds on the night. Zanna played 26 minutes and will likely see much more time now that Birch is gone.

Starting in place of Birch was Dante Taylor. Taylor, who previously started before being replaced, had been playing well lately. But he was MIA for most of the game, tallying only two points and four rebounds. Without Birch, Pitt needs Taylor to be the player he had been over the past several games since his return from migranes instead of the player he was early this season.

Ashton Gibbs scored 14 points, but continued his spotty shooting. He shot only 6-for-18 from the field, including a dismal 2-for-12 from three-point range.

South Carolina State actually made this game a bit closer than expected. And if they had gotten more contributions from the team, it could have been an even tighter contest. But while the Bulldogs got 21 points from star guard/forward Brandon Riley, only four players scored for the team. Two starters, Presano Bell and Aaron Martin, went scoreless, and the team couldn’t get much help for Riley, Khalif Coombs (16 points) and Shaquil Barber (12 points).

For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out Cardiac Hill.

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