No. 5 Pitt advanced to 2-0 on its young season by defeating Illinois-Chicago, 97-54, at the Petersen Events Center Wednesday night as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
Ashton Gibbs led the Panthers with 24 points and a career high of 6 assists, followed closely by Brad Wannamaker with 17 points.
“(Gibbs and Wannamaker) have been doing it for a while. They were pretty good the other night, too,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said after the game. “Their numbers speak for themselves. They’re good.
“It was a better day for Gilbert as he’s getting a little bit more comfortable. I really like our perimeter.”
Gilbert Brown and Travon Woodall were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“I think (the perimeter) is a strength of ours,” Dixon said.
Pitt stormed to an early 22-8 lead as Brown and Wannamaker each had 9 points a piece. Gibbs came on as the half ended, putting up 10 points in the final 10 minutes to help the Panthers go in to halftime with a 43-29 lead.
Gibbs finished the first half 4-of-9 shooting — 3-of-7 from 3-point range — for 13 points in the first half. He said after the game that he was just taking the looks Illinois-Chicago gave, which included a lot of room from outside the arc.
“I think a lot of it had to do with our guards creating, kicking it to teammates for open shots” Gibbs said. “We just took advantage of it and knocked shots down.”
The Panthers’ lead grew to 20 just over four minutes in to the second half, 51-31. Pitt continued to make shots and pushed the lead to 30 and then 40 points. The Panthers largest lead of 45 points, 97-52, came with just 21 seconds left and many reserves on the floor.
All told, Pitt played 12 players in the game.
The Panthers finished the game shooting nearly 58 percent (37-of-64) from the field and over 52 percent (11-of-21) from 3-point range. They also outrebounded the Flames 45-25.
“We weren’t happy at halftime — coach Dixon wasn’t,” Gibbs said. “But we stressed defense in the second half and we came out strong and got the win.”
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog