Pitt 74, Ohio 49

It took Gilbert Brown a while to get going, but once the redshirt junior forward got rolling he was difficult to stop.

After missing 11 games on academic suspension, Gilbert Brown returned to the Pittsburgh men's basketball team for its game with Ohio University and made all four baskets to lead the Panthers to a 74-49 win Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center. It was the final non-conference game for Pitt.

Brown, who subbed in for sophomore Nasir Robinson at the four (power forward) spot, canned two 3-pointers and also hit a free throw in 18 minutes. Robinson, the starter all season at that position, was 5-for-5 from the field and added seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

"This is where we wanted to be (with Brown), and I felt that splitting minutes with Nasir was our thinking going in,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "And that's what ended up happening. We got 9-for-9 from the field from those two guys at that spot, so that was a good thing. We also got seven turnovers.

"So, that probably was the only drawback. We had seven turnovers in the first half, and I don't know what we had in the last 10 minutes. We just got careless with the ball (and ended up with 21 turnovers) with the huge lead. And that was disappointing, but ... I think we're heading in the right direction on defense.''

Ohio got the majority of its points on offensive rebounds with 18 on 20 boards, but the Bobcats shot just 23.9 percent from the field. According to Ohio records, that's the program's worst shooting performance in nearly a decade. Ironically, it wasn't the lowest for a Pitt opponent this season, as New Hampshire clanked its way to a 23.5-percent performance Dec. 4 at the Pete.

Pitt raced to a 20-3 advantage through the opening nine-plus minutes in the game, as Ohio made just one of its first 15 shots. The Bobcats steadily got back into the game, but Pitt held a 38-24 advantage at halftime, maintained the lead by around that many points -- more or less -- and took it to an apex of 28 points on a Nick Rivers 3-pointer with just 37 seconds remaining.

It was Brown that provided the spark for the Panthers.

"It was a big adjustment, actually, with just a couple practices and switching positions,'' Brown said. "But by just having a thorough understanding of the offense, that really helped me get through this first game. So, I felt it was a good transition that I made, switching from the three to the four.

"I definitely can say that I put in the hard-working effort to come back in shape to contribute to the team, but I still have to get in game shape. There's nothing like that, but with time I'll be back up to speed. I just think with a week or two of practices, since they're so tough and demanding, I'll be able to get back.''

Brown, with 11 points in his 18 minutes, was among four Panthers in double figures in scoring. Sophomore Ashton Gibbs, who started a second straight game at point guard, led the way with 15 in 29 minutes. Senior Jermaine Dixon had 14, while Robinson added 10 and seven rebounds.

Junior Bradley Wanamaker was a little off his recent scoring pace with just four points, but he had 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Freshman Dante Taylor added 10 boards and six points in 18 minutes.

Junior Gary McGhee was among three Pitt players who did not miss a basket (3-for-3), and he added seven boards in 21 minutes. Pitt shot 55.8 percent from the field with a 59.1 percent effort in the second half and tallied 26 assists on 29 made shots.

Armon Bassett and Steven Coleman led Ohio with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Despite the Bobcats prowess on the offensive boards, Pitt out-rebounded them 48-38 overall.

"I think Gil gave us a lot of energy today, and I think there's more to come,'' Gibbs said. "We're still searching for more consistency on offense, and we need to keep improving to start playing our best basketball for Big East play.

"(But) with Gil just starting and Jermaine only here for a couple games, we're still working on it. But we'll be fine. We just need to get back to practice and work hard to get ready for our first Conference game.''

Pitt (10-2) faces DePaul in the Big East opener Monday at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

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