Gibbs has not proved to be an effective off-the-dribble jump shooter or driver when he is overplayed. In the last four games, Gibbs is 15 for 49 from the field. He is 2 for 19 from inside the 3-point arc.
Coach %%MATCH_4%% is going to want to address this problem following Pitt's 56-51 loss to %%MATCH_8%% on Monday night. Gibbs was 4 for 13 from the field and only 1 for 5 from 3-point range. Gibbs is at his best when he is behind the 3-point line, and Dixon must find a way to get him open shots again.
That might include playing reserve point guard Travon Woodall more at point guard and moving Gibbs off the ball. But that can only help so much. Sooner or later, Gibbs is going to have to make more mid-range shots if the Panthers are going to continue to have success.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Redshirt freshman forward %%MATCH_7%% has gone from a starter to someone who barely plays. Zanna, who started the first 13 games, played a season-low three minutes in the loss to Notre Dame. He was held scoreless for the fifth time in the last eight games. In the last three games, Zanna has played a total of 15 minutes.
--Notre Dame played the slow-down game, bled the shot clock on every possession and beat the second-ranked Panthers 56-51 Monday night. It was the third consecutive win in the series for the Irish, who utilized the same game plan in their two victories against the Panthers last season. The Panthers were held to a season-low point total and failed to find an answer for Irish senior Ben Hansbrough, who scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the final 4:29 to put the game out of reach.
--Someone better tell Pitt coach Jamie Dixon that %%MATCH_10%% coach Jim Boeheim is in the Hall of Fame for he treats him with no respect, winning nine of 11 meetings with him, including the last five in a row. Going back further than Dixon's arrival at Pitt, the Panthers have won 13 of the last 16 games between the two teams.
--Pitt coach Jamie Dixon collected his first technical foul in more than two years after raising his arms and pointing to the foul discrepancy (Pitt eight, Syracuse three) with seven minutes left in their showdown.
"I didn't say anything," Dixon explained. "I raised my arms. I apologized to the team afterward. I haven't gotten a 'T' in so long. It's been a couple of years. Sometimes I guess you've got to get one."
BY THE NUMBERS: 19 and 17 -- Pitt opened its showdown against Syracuse by scoring 19 consecutive points, a run that was answered by Syracuse immediately with 17 straight of their own. No one could remember seeing any game start like that.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When we made that first run, that's probably the loudest I've ever The Pete since I've been here -- and you all know I've been around here a long time." -- Pitt senior F Gilbert Brown after defeating Syracuse.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME:
--at %%MATCH_11%%, Jan. 29
KEY MATCHUPS: This is a road game for Pitt -- that about does it for the list of advantages Rutgers has in this matchup. Unless the Panthers completely overlook Rutgers, they should go in and score a businesslike victory, just as they did against another Big East bottom-dweller, %%MATCH_12%%, which lost by 30. Rutgers is a top five defensive team in the Big East but can't match up on the boards against a %%MATCH_9%% team that is ruthless in its rebounding. Rutgers has no one in the top 20 in scoring in the conference and its best rebounder, %%MATCH_6%%, ranks No. 20 in that department.
FUTURES MARKET: When speaking of the future, you seldom hear seniors mentioned, but at Pitt they are looking at the future of this season and that centers around the senior class.
"The best thing about those guys is they all still are improving every day," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dixon has found a way to keep seniors around, having had only two players leave early for the NBA since arriving and that has helped them climb to the top of the Big East. This senior class has won 101 games and the way the Panthers are playing with Brad Wannamaker, Gilbert Brown and %%MATCH_5%%, there's a whole bunch more ahead.
--Ashton Gibbs was 1 for 5 from 3-point range Monday. He had been averaging more than three 3-pointers per game in Pitt's first seven Big East contests.
--Sophomore guard Travon Woodall is starting to find his shooting stroke. After struggling from 3-point range for most of the season, Woodall has made 6 of his last 9 attempts from behind the arc, including a 2-for-2 performance against Notre Dame.
--Senior G Brad Wanamaker is second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio while another guard, Tavon Woodall, is tied for third place, explaining why Pitt leads the Big East in that department.