As I mentioned in the Ashton Gibbs feature on SB Nation Pittsburgh, Pitt’s offense was going to struggle a bit with the loss of its top scorer. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the first half so far as West Virginia clings to a 25-23 lead.
Travon Woodall, who is starting for Gibbs, hasn’t given Pitt very much to this point. He’s shooting only 1-6 so far with four points.
Both teams have struggled a bit, but Pitt is the team playing far below their potential. The Panthers are shooting a horrible 29% from the field – well below West Virginia’s 39%. And while the Mountaineers have gotten some great production from Deniz Kilicli (10 points) on the bench, Pitt’s bench has been ice cold going 0-7 from the field. The Panthers’ reserves have only been able to muster two points on J.J. Moore free throws.
In addition, a great area of strength for Pitt this season has been three-point shooting. That’s not been there tonight as the team is 0-4 from that range. West Virginia hasn’t exactly been lighting it up from the outside, either, as they’re 1-7.
While Pitt has not played well, the Mountaineers have some room for improvement as well and would like to get some points from the team’s leading scorer, Casey Mitchell. Mitchell is currently scoreless in the game and the Mountaineers may need him to score a bit if they’re going to hold Pitt off.
As frustrating as it was for Pitt in the first half, the message I’m almost sure they’re getting right now is that they’ve played horrible and are basically even with the Mountaineers. Both teams have really played poorly in the first half, but I don’t expect that to continue in the second.