The win was Pitt's sixth in a row and snapped Cincy's four-game win streak. This one was a real battle and a back and forth effort, as evidenced by the game flow chart. No team led by more than seven all game long, and that was an early 11-4 Cincy lead.
Ashton Gibbs, who was named the Conference Player of the Week, was his usual self, scoring 19 even while blanketed for much of the game. His free throw streak came to an end at one of the worst times for Pitt, as his miss allowed them a final near half-court three-point attempt to tie it. But in the end, it didn't matter. Looking back at that final foul, in which Cincinnati fouled Gibbs before the inbound pass: That was either unbelievably poor coaching or just a stupid move by the players. Of all the guys to foul, I couldn't believe they went for Gibbs, who is not only one of Pitt's best free throw shooters, but one of the best in the country.
The biggest thing to come out of this was that Ashton Gibbs showed he can be a factor and still find a way to get his points, even while not getting many open looks. Ten of his points came from the foul line and he was able to rack up 19 points while only making four field goals.
But if you watched the game, you know that Gilbert Brown may have been Pitt's biggest star, as he went 7-13 from the field for 17 points, including one of his highlight-film dunks.
Darnell Wilks' 3-pointer with 11 minutes to play gave Cincinnati a 52-51 lead -- its first advantage since four minutes into the first half -- but Brown answered with a 3-pointer and Pitt's most explosive dunk of the season. With the score tied, 54-54, after a follow-up dunk by Rashad Bishop, the 6-foot-6 Brown took a pass from Woodall along the baseline, drove to the basket and dunked over the 6-8, 255-pound Toyloy while being fouled. Brown's free throw gave Pitt a 57-54 lead.But it wasn't that he scored 17, it was WHEN he got them:
"Travon made a great pass," Brown said. "I made a natural basketball play. I just went up and finished."
Gilbert Brown scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half Monday night, showing the Panthers what they've been missing for most of the season, and Ashton Gibbs made three free throws in the final 7.4 seconds to close out a 74-71 victory over Cincinnati.Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin knew the value of his second-half play:
"They're not a very easy team to defend," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "Brown had five second-half baskets that I thought really broke our back. You can't really judge Pitt (except) since they have their full team back."Part of the reason the game was so close was because of the play of Cincy's three stars, Deonta Vaughn, Lance Stephenson, and Yancy Gates who shot 56% from the field and went for 48 points.
I was also surprised to see Gary McGhee get more minutes than Dante Taylor tonight. Just when you think Taylor's surpassed him, Jamie Dixon goes back to McGhee. You can look at the box score and say McGhee wasn't all that bad, but he really didn't play that well. He was slow defensively, was outrebounded on several occasions, and looked downright uncoordinated many times. Taylor is not going to be perfect, but he needs more game experience. I found myself screaming at McGhee for much of the night, and that's not good for anybody. With Dixon's penchant for playing upperclassmen, Taylor might never start ahead of McGhee. But that needs to change.
Oh, and those pesky turnovers? Not an issue tonight as Pitt only had 7 - their second lowest total of the year.
Personally, I figured Pitt would be a little flat in this game coming off a big road win only two days ago. Going on the road again, I conceded there might be a chance for a letdown. Glad I was wrong. With the rest of the week off, Pitt has plenty of time to prepare for UCONN next week. They should also move up in the rankings as well.