Jamie Dixon didn’t change all that much despite going on the road this past week and facing a pair of ranked teams without his leading scorer.
``We went in expecting to win,” Pittsburgh’s head coach said. ``We weren’t waving the white flag.”
Dixon, as is always the case, doesn’t get rattled. He didn’t make playing without Ashton Gibbs more than it was.
``We’ve played without him before,” Dixon said. ``We just had to do it for 40 minutes instead of 10 or 15. That’s how we looked at it.”
And the Panthers came away with road victories over West Virginia and Villanova in the process.
``We played good,” Dixon said. ``But we didn’t play great.”
Dixon said they will see how Gibbs is progressing today and make a determination whether he’ll play Wednesday against South Florida or sit out another game.
``We’re not going to rush him,” Dixon said. ``But if we think he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
Dixon was disappointed with the way his team failed to put away ‘Nova and made a few inopportune turnovers down the stretch after taking care of the ball nearly the entire game.
But what Dixon is excited about is the improvement on the defensive end of late.
Especially from his upperclassman. Guys like seniors Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker – and junior Nasir Robinson.
I ranked the Panthers No. 1 this week based on their overall body of work. They are the best team in the best league in America.
Sure, the home loss to a Tennessee team that’s no longer ranked is worse than Ohio State’s road setback against Wisconsin. Then you throw in another loss for the Panthers – at home against a Notre Dame team that’s ranked in the Top 10.
But Pittsburgh has beaten Texas on a neutral court, has taken care of Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia on the road – and also beaten UConn and Syracuse at home.
That’s a half-dozen wins over Top 25 teams if you’re counting.