Pitt routs Robert Morris, 77-53
Pitt center Gary McGhee bocks a shot by Robert Morris forward Rob Robinson in the second half of last night's game at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs steals the ball from Robert Morris guard Velton Jones in the first half of last night's game at the Petersen Events center.
Pitt guard Brad Wanamaker looks for a steal as Robert Morris guard Velton Jones hits the floor in the first half.
Pitt forward J.J. Richardson and Robert Morris'' guard Velton Jones collide as they go for a rebound in the first half.
Pitt guard Brad Wanamaker goes for a rebound against Robert Morris in the first half.
Pitt forward Nasir Robinson gets a shot up against Robert Morris forward Dallas Green in the second half.
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Pitt's starting guard tandem of Ashton Gibbs and Jermaine Dixon hadn't exactly been shooting stars for the Panthers in recent weeks. Both had gone through some prolonged 3-point shooting slumps, which made Pitt's 3-point shooting percentage as well as their offensive scoring output plummet.
Gibbs and Dixon rediscovered their outside shooting touch Monday night and led Pitt to a 77-53 victory against Robert Morris at the Petersen Events Center.
Gibbs scored 20 points and made four 3-pointers, the most 3-pointers in a game for him since the Jan. 2 game at Syracuse.
Dixon tied a season-high with three 3-pointers and scored 18 points.
For Gibbs, it was his first 20-point game in more than two weeks. He had not scored more than 14 points in any of the previous four games.
"It felt good," Gibbs said. "It's something I've been working on consistently. I knew they would fall sooner or later. I was finally connecting. My teammates did a good job of finding me in open spots and I took advantage of it."
Dixon came into the game shooting 22 percent from 3-point range, but he made three of his first four 3-point attempts Monday night.
"I don't think I was shying away [from taking 3-pointers]," Dixon said. "I'd rather drive to the paint. With someone closing out on me, I feel like I can beat them to the basket. But I have to take that 3 sometimes to keep people honest. Today, knocking them down, it felt good for me. I'm knocking them down more in practice. I had some confidence coming into the game with my shot."
No. 25 Pitt (18-6) tied its season high with 10 3-pointers. The outside shooting was key for the Panthers, who needed it to take a 39-33 lead into halftime against a game Robert Morris team that made seven of its first nine shots from the field and controlled play for long stretches in the first half.
But Pitt made 6 of its 10 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes to take the lead. Robert Morris coach Mike Rice said the ones from Dixon were killers because the Colonials made the decision to force Dixon to beat them from the outside.
"He did the same thing against us last year, too," Rice said. "He just kind of smiled at us and said I love playing against you guys. It's not a secret that Pitt struggles sometimes from 3-point range. We wanted to make them beat us from the perimeter. We played some of our best basketball of the season in the first half and we're still down because of those dagger 3s that Dixon made."
Robert Morris shot 48 percent from the field and only trailed by six at halftime. But Pitt turned up the intensity in the second half and quickly ended any hopes that Robert Morris might pull off the upset.
The Panthers scored 20 of the first 24 points of the second half and led, 59-37, with 12:20 remaining. Pitt held Robert Morris to one field goal for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
"They were driving and hitting some shots in the first half," Jermaine Dixon said. "Coach got on us and told us we needed to pick our intensity up. It worked because we held them to 26 percent in the second half."
Pitt finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with an 11-2 record.
The Panthers improved to 28-0 all time against Robert Morris and 67-0 against teams from the Northeast Conference. The average margin of victory in the past 10 games in the Robert Morris series is 24 points per game.
With the victory, the Panthers also extended their school-record home winning streak to 47 games against non-conference opponents. They are 75-1 against non-conference foes at the Petersen Events Center.
First Published February 9, 2010 12:00 am