PITTSBURGH — For a night, Pitt fans saw exactly what type of player Gilbert Brown can be.

Called the best athlete on the team by many, Brown scored a career-high 28 points against Maryland Eastern Shore (2-8) in a 97-64 win for No. 8 Pitt (11-1). He added 5 rebounds and 5 assists, showcasing nearly every part of his game against the Hawks.

“My whole mindset going in to practices and in to games from now on is no hesitation, just play basketball,” Brown said after the game.

He clearly wasn’t worried after he missed his first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, just 2:09 in to the game. From that point he made his next 11 shots, four of which came from behind the arc.

“It was good to see him come out and be aggressive,” Gary McGhee said. “He had to come out aggressive at the beginning of the game, to be in the flow of the game. He did that tonight and knocked down a lot of shots.”

McGhee said Brown’s output didn’t hit him until the second half when he noticed the number next to Brown’s name on the scoreboard.

“When I looked up and seen he had 24, that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, he’s scoring tonight,'” McGhee said with a laugh. “He definitely made a lot of shots tonight and helped us get the win.”

Pitt struggled early on against UMES, leading by just four points with 6:48 until halftime. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon called a timeout and Pitt went on a 21-5 run over the next five minutes to earn a 47-27 lead.

Brown had 10 points during the run and Pitt took a 47-32 lead in to halftime. In the second half Brown scored 9 more points, playing just 10 minutes.

All told he averaged more than a point a minute, scoring 28 in 24 minutes. However, he said he left one out there near the end, shooting for 30 points.

“I don’t remember the last time I even thought about 30 points in a game,” Brown said. “It was high school, senior year I guess. That’s a long time ago since I’ve been here.

“When I got in the game there at the end and I shot that last pull-up jump shot I was kind of aiming for (30).”

McGhee added 10 points, Ashton Gibbs had 15 and Travon Woodall had 11 as other Panthers in double figures. Woodall added 9 assists to lead the team on a record-setting assist night, as Pitt totaled 33 assists — the most in the Jamie Dixon era and one shy of the school record.

Dixon said that was the most important number of all from the win.

“I’ve been happy with the progression of our offense as the year’s gone on, with our ball movement, our execution of our plays,” Dixon said. “There’s been continuous improvement in that area. We really showed it tonight.

“The 33 assists speaks volumes. (I’m) really happy with our unselfishness, the way we shot the ball.”

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog