Panthers Basketball Report

The games took place just a few weeks ago, but the Panthers' losses to Bucknell, Georgetown and St. John's seem like they happened a long time ago.<br><br> Pitt followed up its road victory over Connecticut with a comeback win over Syracuse last weekend, turning its season back around in the span of two games and serving notice that the preseason buzz surrounding this program was more than hot air.

In both games, the Panthers trailed by 17 points early, and since they don't have a reputation of being an explosive offensive team, that probably should have been the death knell. But in each game, the offense came through as the defense clamped down. The preseason expectations were that point guard Carl Krauser and center Chris Taft would have to carry the load offensively. But while Krauser has struggled with his shot for much of the season and opponents double-team Taft in an attempt to push him away from the basket, senior forward Chevon Troutman has emerged as the go-to offensive threat.

After averaging just 9.8 points per game last season, Troutman is up to 14.4 points per game this year. He's been particularly hot lately, scoring 23 against Seton Hall, 29 against Connecticut and 18 against Syracuse.

The flip side is that when he struggles, the Panthers are usually in trouble. Troutman was held to nine points against St. John's because of foul trouble, six points against Bucknell and five against Georgetown. Not coincidentally, those are the three Pitt losses.

TEAM NOTES:

Pitt dominated the glass in its victory over Syracuse. The Panthers had 18 offensive rebounds, leading to 13 second-chance points. To put that number in perspective, Syracuse had only 16 rebounds on the defensive end.

For whatever reason, the Panthers have had a hard time getting started. Pitt made one of its first 14 shots from the floor against Syracuse, and hit an anemic 11 of their first 30 shots against UConn.

PROBABLE LINEUP: Point guard Carl Krauser, shooting guard Antonio Graves, center Chris Taft, forward Levon Kendall, forward Chevon Troutman.

Next Game: at West Virginia, Feb. 5

Keys To Win:  Stop the Mountaineers outside shooting, and its doubtful that West Virginia will score enough to beat you. While Tyrone Salley has been playing well offensively, Chevon Troutman is a tough matchup for him. The wing players will need to focus on Mike Gansey and Johannes Herber, and get a hand in the face of Patrick Beilein when he's in the game. Coach Jamie Dixon would also like to see his team play the full 40 minutes this game, instead of falling behind early again.

Star Power: Freshman Keith Benjamin, getting a career-high 21 minutes against the Orange, responded with a career-high 10 points.

Carl Krauser scored all of his 19 points in the second half against Syracuse.

Redshirt freshman Levon Kendall made his first career start against Syracuse, and made sure he did enough to get a second one. He knocked down three three-pointers in his 29 minutes.


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