Pitt Opens With Win

Pitt's starting backcourt of Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs combined for 46 of Pitt's 89 points scored on Friday night.

Pittsburgh guard Travon Woodall paced the way on Friday night, as No. 11 Pitt opened its 2011-12 season with a 89-56 win over Albany.

Woodall connected on five three-pointers, on his way to a career-high 25 points. Woodall's previous career-high came as a freshman, as he netted 19 points against Wichita State two years ago.

"I felt good, I'm working on something, working on my shot," Woodall said after the game. "I know a lot of guys will be keying on Ashton (Gibbs), so I've got to be ready to knock down shots. I did that tonight."

Gibbs also had a solid night, collecting 21 points for the Panthers. Gibbs, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, along with Woodall, give the Panthers a nice one-two punch in the backcourt as this version of Jamie Dixon's Panthers looks to find a frontcourt that can be effective as the season progresses.

It didn't take long for the Panthers to gain a comfortable lead, grabbing a double-digit advantage just five minutes into the contest, while riding a 21-point advantage into halftime. It was the tandem of Woodall and Gibbs who spent the night not only filling up the basket, but they did a good job of finding each other up. Woodall finished with 10 assists while Gibbs had a career-high seven, consistently finding open teammates.

Gibbs, who is the engine that runs the Panthers offense spoke after the game about the good start his team got off to.

"I was trying to create for myself, create for others as well," Gibbs said after the game. "At the end of the day I was penetrating and I passed the ball. It was nothing out of the ordinary and my teammates knocked down shots."

Pitt shot very well from the floor in the 1st half, connecting on 59 percent of its shots and led by as many as 24 points in the first half. Pitt led, 47-26, at halftime and by as many as 30 points in the second half on the way to its 57th consecutive victory against a non-conference opponent.

Gerardo Suero led Albany with 17 points but the Great Danes were overpowered all night long by the talent-rich Panthers. Pitt did not have the services of J.J. Moore who was suspended for one game for playing in an unsupervised summer league game. Despite not having Moore, Jamie Dixon was pleased.

"We came out on offense I thought very good for a first game," he said afterwards. "I thought Tray was more patient when he was open, he recognized it. We created turnover and that helped us with some transition baskets. I thought the defense was good, but we did allow them to shoot 43%. They are a good team and will be at the top of their league again this year. There are some things that we need to work on."

Dixon also acknoweled that Woodall's work ethic leading up to the opener has been on point.

"He really practiced well the past two days and that's something we talked about, that he has to work hard every day," Dixon said. "He only took 13 shots, but was patient on some drives. He tested it, tested it and then pulled it out, finding an open man. I think we are quicker than some may give us credit for, but we can work on a few things to improve for next game."

Forward Nasir Robinson, who was slowed down by a preseason knee injury that limited him during early practice sessions, finished with eight points and three rebounds in 23 solid minutes of play.

Freshman forward Khem Birch--just the sixth McDonald's All-American to play at Pitt--had an average game. Birch missed his lone shot from the field while making two free throws to go with three rebounds in 17 minutes.

Albany coach Will Brown knew his club was going to have it's hands full with the Panthers.

"We ran into a good team, a physical team," Brown said. "If they shoot that well we don't have a right being in the game with them."

Pitt has won 15 straight season openers dating to 1997 and remained unbeaten at the Petersen Events Center against non-conference opponents in November and December. Pitt remained unbeaten in nine season openers under coach Jamie Dixon. The Panthers will host Rider on Sunday at the Pete, with a tip time of 6pm.

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