While Pitt football was busy collapsing on offense during the Brawl, the Pitt basketball team was in Philly to play Penn at the Palestra for the Philly Hoop Group Classic. In front of a mainly pro-Pitt crowd, Pitt finally put on a solid performance in routing the Quakers 78-58.
We didn't mention this yesterday, but there was a shakeup in the starting lineup. Lamar Patterson was suspended for two games for a violation of team rules while Dante Taylor sat out this game because of migranes. J.J. Moore and Khem Birch replaced those two in the starting lineup. Both players shined in their new roles.
Birch was the real star. He struggled initially, turning the ball over and missing an easy layup, all within 30 seconds of the game starting. Once he recorded the first of his three blocks, he settled down and got into the a nice flow. His night ended with 15 points on 6-8 shooting and ten rebounds, his first collegiate double-double.
"He's got a good feel, so there's things that you can grow with and build with," coach Jamie Dixon said. "That's something you can't teach."
Moore on the other hand also had a good night is his role of starter, going 5-9 from the field, including 1-3 from 3, to score 12 points. He also recorded six rebounds.
Ashton Gibbs struggled shooting the ball in the 1st half, going 1-7 from the field for only three points. He shot 6-8 in the second half, including 3-5 from three-point range, to score 13 points in the second half.
Pitt got good production from the bench, using only three players in last night's game. Talib Zanna scored eight points, but went down in the second half to a knee injury. Jamie Dixon said Zanna would be fine. John Johnson scored four points and Cam Wright had two.
Overall, Pitt shot 58% from the field and only had nine turnovers as compared to 19 assists. They also barely won the rebounding margin 29-28 (although if you look elsewhere, Pitt lost 32-30). On the other side, Pitt held Penn to 40% shooting and forced 16 turnovers. Penn did beat Pitt on the offensive glass, but that may have been due to Khem's inexperience in the middle. Pitt also was average at the free throw line, going 11-16. They let Penn guard Zack Rosen go off for 22 points on 8-16 shooting, including 6-10 from behind the arc, but held the rest of Penn's players in check.
This was a result that this team needed. Pitt returns home to take on local rival Robert Morris on Sunday at 5 p.m.