Pitt didn’t have Gilbert Brown or Jermaine Dixon for practice for much of the first semester. Brown was ineligible and Dixon was recovering from a broken foot. Now that they’re on board, the Panthers are complete.
They’re still flawed and not very deep off the bench in terms of production, but they’re a confident crew. Dixon made 7 of 8 free throws, Brown added 17 points off the bench and the most reliable player, point Ashton Gibbs, scored 19 points on 10 of 11 free throws to lead the Panthers to a 74-71 win at Cincinnati on Monday.
Pitt has now won at Syracuse and Cincinnati to race out to a 3-0 start in the Big East. The third and final road game in a grueling start to the league season is at Connecticut next Wednesday.
Pitt is used to being atop the Big East standings, but no one -- especially after the Panthers lost to Indiana in the Jimmy V Classic -- could have predicted this turnaround. It’s early, way early, but Jamie Dixon has to be the frontrunner for Big East coach of the year.
Pitt didn’t do anything to warrant an at-large bid save for a win over Wichita State in Kansas City. Pitt had to earn its bid in the Big East. So far the Panthers are doing everything right.