Pitt Downs South Carolina State In Post-Birch Era

Pitt got back to work after what was the craziest week in the program I can remember. First there was the Todd Graham fiasco, followed immediately by Khem Birch eventually leaving the program. In addition, Pitt is also hot on the trail for a new football coach, Tray Woodall (who was maybe playing the best of any Panther at the time of his injury) is still out, and the football program is somehow trying to get ready for a bowl game.

In the meantime, there's still basketball to be played.

Pitt took care of business Saturday night against South Carolina State, though the game was closer than they wanted, I'm sure. Still, getting the win is the most important thing, obviously.

Lamar Patterson had another good game and led the team with 16 points. The big guy stepping up was Talib Zanna, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds off the bench. Zanna's been playing well lately and Pitt's going to need that with Birch being out. Malcolm Gilbert won't be going the redshirt route and got five minutes in the game. Pitt should be okay without Birch, but his loss definitely hurts the team in terms of depth. Pitt now not only needs to stay healthy in the frontcourt, but they need to also stay out of foul trouble. Otherwise, a guy like Gilbert could be seeing more action than he should.

Looking for a point of concern? You can start with a source you wouldn't have guessed: Ashton Gibbs.

Gibbs only had 14 points, but the big concern continues to be his shooting. He shot only 6-18 and was a dismal 2-12 from three-point range. I'm not sure exactly what the deal is, but I continue to believe it's the amount of minutes he's playing. Last night? He played 38, which is obviously too much. Jamie Dixon, who acknowledged this before again brought it up again in last night's game:

"He's playing probably too many minutes given the situation," Dixon said of Gibbs. "But he makes everybody better. The other guys play better when Ashton is in there."

I can agree that other players probably get better looks when Gibbs is in there (and he does a good job passing the ball as well - had a team-high six assists on Saturday), but at what point is too much simply too much. 38 minutes is ridiculous and that's clearly due, at least in part, to Woodall's injury. But I really think that's a big part of his shooting percentage being so down this year (as I wrote about recently).

The sooner Woodall gets back, the better.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and also on Twitter at @CardiacHill for the latest on Pitt football and basketball.

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