PITTSBURGH — Ashton Gibbs did exactly what he should have against sub par competition Monday night at the Greentree Sportsplex: dominate.

Gibbs, who was absent from competition last Wednesday, came back in full force, scoring 30 points to lead all scorers on the night. What’s more, Gibbs and Pitt small forward Lamar Patterson showed some exciting chemistry at times, which is an intriguing combo to think about for the upcoming season.

Gibbs scored 16 points in the first half, hitting two 3-pointers. He added another 14 points in the second half, creating open room along the 3-point line from wing to wing with his athleticism.

Gibbs regularly shook off defenders with a juke and stepped back to fire up from range. He totaled six 3-pointers on the night.

Lamar Patterson, who didn’t exactly impress last Wednesday, had a very strong performance Monday night as well. He had 10 points in the first half and added 12 in the second, feeding off Gibbs to create offense.

Patterson started the second half with a layup on a nice give-and-go with Gibbs in transition. After driving the lane for his second field goal of the half, Patterson found space down low and Gibbs fed him the ball underneath the basket for another layup.

That type of chemistry would surely help the Panthers this season, as athletic playmakers like Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker have graduated. Patterson resembled Brown at times last season as a freshman, and his performance last night was encouraging.

Maybe the two will click like that during 2011-12 regular season.

Gibbs and Patterson went up against Pitt teammates Talib Zanna and incoming freshman Durand Johnson. Neither had as big of nights as Gibbs and Patterson, but both had their moments.

Zanna’s best action came in the first half, as he quickly established himself as a more active and aggressive player than he was on night two in Green Tree. Zanna had four points and six rebounds in the opening five minutes of the half and added three more points before halftime.

Zanna had an odd second half, though, as he seemed more content to shoot from range than go inside where he was effective in the first half.

Johnson, on the other hand, had his best stretch of play in the second half. After scoring eight points in the opening 22 minutes, Johnson added 11 in the second, hitting several three pointers late to keep his team within reach.

Maybe his best shot came late in the second half, as he launched a 3-pointer over Patterson’s defense at the top of the key through the netting to cut in to the deficit.

While the both had ups and downs, it was encouraging to see Zanna and Johnson make plays. Both were pretty invisible on night two.

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I feel inclined to post this again to put things in perspective. Let’s all keep in mind that the impressions from tonight are based on sub-par competition. Yes, it’s great to have these guys go out and compete, but it’s not like Pitt is playing against Big East-quality opponents.

The basketball, at times, more resembles your local rec league than it does collegiate basketball.

I can only comment on what I saw and how Pitt players interacted with the competition.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog

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