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Cincinnati Vs. Pitt: Panthers Hoping To Get Back On Track After Two-Game Skid

The Panthers take on the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats at home in what is starting to look like a tough test.

Pitt is coming off of two straight losses to mid-major Wagner and Big East foe Notre Dame and now stands at 11-3 on the season. Cincinnati was expected to struggle with the losses of three of their big men including star and leading rebounder Yancy Gates, but that's hardly been the case. After Gates, Cheikh Mbodj, and Octavius Ellis were suspended for six games for their roles in a brawl in the game against Xavier a few weeks ago, the Bearcats have instead thrived. Cincinnati's won five in a row since the suspensions, going with a smaller lineup that has produced more than 86 points per game.

To further complicate matters for Pitt, their starting backcourt of Tray Woodall and Ashton Gibbs has been in bad shape. Woodall came back from missing several games to play against the Irish last week, but struggled mightily in that game, failing to score a point. He also had two turnovers to only two assists in the contest. At the time of his departure, he was on a potential record-setting pace for assists for Pitt and clearly wasn't himself in the return. He hasn't practiced since and his status isn't known at this point.

Gibbs, the team's leading scorer, hasn't missed any games, but as we mentioned yesterday, he's been playing through an injury. Dixon was non-committal when asked if Gibbs would be playing and it's possible that the Panthers could be without both guards. If they are, that would be disastrous and Pitt would be much thinner. The team could start freshmen Cameron Wright and John Johnson, or move Lamar Patterson to Gibbs' slot and give forward J.J. Moore a start.

Either way, though, the reserves could get a bit more action in this game. For more on Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.

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