Second game of the season. It was a trap. Pitt played a joke of a team in the Rider Broncs of the MAAC. Then again Rider has done something Pitt hasn't, and that is have a player drafted in the lottery in the last 10 years. (Jason Thompson 12th overall to the Kings in 2008). Coming off a 26 point shellacking at the hands of the power house Robert Morris Colonials, Rider didn't appear to offer Pitt much of a challenge. That and they only dressed 9 players. Pitt would roll.
But that's why they play the game.
Pitt jumped out to an early 17-5 lead. Gibbs and Woodall were both 2-2 from 3. And Robinson had the other 5 with an And 1 (Robinson had a monster game). 5 minutes into the game, I thought Woodall might go for 40...in the first half. He was on fire. Then his game turned to ice and so did Pitt's for the next 30 minutes. Rider led by 6 late in the second half and held its last lead 73-72 before Pitt finally shut them down and escaped embarrassment. I can't say the same about Vanderbilt, which lost to Cleveland State today. So Pitt should move up 1 in the rankings.
Gibbs - All the nba moves we saw from Gibbs in the first game seemed to disappear and he was back to a 3 point specialist. He went 6-14 from 3 and 1-1 from 2. He wasn't a playmaker either registering only 1 assist. One of his 3's was the dagger for Pitt though that put the game out of reach for Rider. Grade A-
Woodall - Woodall continued his hot shooting from Friday in the first 5 minutes of tonight's game, but then the shots just stopped falling for him and he started making bad decisions. He recovered and stopped trying to do too much in the second half. His overall stat line is still very solid. 17 pt team high 7 reb, team high 10 assists. Grade A-
Patterson - Patterson is playing well and is clearly deserving of the starting position over Moore. Yes he only shot 1-4 (all 3's) but he grabbed 8 boards and had 5 assists, a steal and a block and no turnovers in 20 minutes. Patterson is a glue guy. Grade B+
Robinson - Monster game from Nasir. 9-10 fg 4-4 ft, 22 points 6 reb 4 ast. Pitt would be wise to try and get him more touches down low. One of these games, Woodall and Gibbs will go ice cold from the perimeter and they'll need points somehow. He also blocked a three point attempt late in the second half that was huge. Grade A+
Taylor - Taylor was nonexistant for the first 35 minutes of the game, but then he had a few putbacks on offense and a game-changing block in the second half that prompted Taylor to do the Mutombo finger wag as he was running down the court. Incredible moment. Taylor's having fun out there, and that's great to see. Grade B+
Zanna - Zanna is a worker. With DeJuan Blair in attendance (and several other Pitt bball greats) the Nigerian gave his best Blair impersonation with 6 offensive boards. I'm not sure how many of those boards resulted in 2nd chance points for Pitt, but it was probably a few. Grade B
Moore - Moore isn't playing well right now. His shot isn't falling and he lacks confidence, which is something I never thought I'd see from him. He was 1-4 and only played 9 minutes. Grade C
Wright - Minimal contribution from Cam in 13, made 1 free throw and zeros for every stat. Grade C-
Birch - Khem finally made a basket (a dunk), had 3 offensive rebounds and registered the first block of his Pitt career. He's still got a long way to go, he needs to put on some weight. Grade B-
J. Johnson - Flip played 6 minutes in the second half when Pitt was trailing. He hit a monster 3 from the left corner to cut into the Rider lead. Grade B
Epps, D. Johnson, Gilbert - Didn't play.
Pitt was awful defensively in this game. Rider had way too many open looks. At one point in the second half they were shooting over 60% for the game. Taylor bit on 1300 shot fakes in this game. They're lucky to escape, but good teams find a way to avoid upsets.
Next game is Wednesday night.
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Hail to Pitt,