Well, it took Pitt a little while to get adjusted, but after they did, there wasn’t much looking back.
The Panthers did jump out to a double-digit first hal lead, but allowed it to evaporate. Pitt held a five-point lead at the half, but there was plenty to forget. The team had eight turnovers and only shot about 35% from the field in the opening 20 minutes. But as so often happens, defense and rebounding kept Pitt in the game.
UNC-Asheville hung around for a bit and Pitt still only led by six with about 15 minutes left in the second half. But eventually, both teams remembered who they were and the Panthers’ talent took over.
Ashton Gibbs led the way, scoring 26, but the biggest factor was on the glass. Pitt outrebounded the Bulldogs by 20 and Pitt’s 19 offensive rebounds were almost as much as UNC-Asheville had at both ends (24). This is what keeps Pitt in games and despite not having a great day shooting the ball, they still found a way to win comfortably.
One thing I really liked about Pitt’s effort in the first half was that they spread the ball around and took shots with confidence. They got a lot of open looks that way, but many of their shots just didn’t fall. Pitt also dumped the ball down low a lot more than we’ve seen lately.
Pitt will now take on Butler, who knocked out Old Dominion today on a last-second shot. I hate to say that playing Butler, a team that nearly won the NCAA championship game last year, is a good thing. But not having to face nearby Old Dominion in D.C. could be a blessing.
But I guess we’ll find out on Saturday.