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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
3-point shot: Pitt's befuddling offense

By Andy Katz

1. Pitt’s inability to score more than 60 points in the past two games is befuddling. The Panthers were playing a possible NEC contender, note possible, in Wagner and then played one of the Big East's bottom third teams in Notre Dame. Yet the Panthers couldn’t crack 60 points and lost both matches. The Panthers were 1-of-14 on 3-pointers against the usual porous Irish defense Tuesday. Travon Woodall was back from an injury and struggled -- 0-for-5 overall, 0-for-3 on 3s. Still, this is a Panthers team that shouldn’t be this offensively challenged. The Panthers were 2-of-15 on 3s against Wagner with Ashton Gibbs shooting 1-of-7 on 3s. The trend will mean that Pitt will slip down to the muddled middle of the Big East for only the second time in Jamie Dixon's eight seasons unless something drastically changes. Pitt has finished in the top two five times, and finished fourth, fifth and seventh -- in 2008 -- once.

2. Minnesota lost to Illinois in double overtime in the Big Ten opener for both teams Tuesday night. But Gophers coach Tubby Smith may be doing his best coaching job -- at the U. The Gophers were thin in experience heading into the season. Losing Trevor Mbakwe to a season-ending knee injury last month should have devastated them. Granted the schedule was soft in many spots but the Gophers still went into that Big Ten opener at 12-1. The Gophers still have a long way to go to ensure a postseason berth but to be this competitive, and playing with this much confidence with such an inexperienced crew, is a credit to Smith and these players.

3. A URI news release says coach Jim Baron will re-evaluate senior guard Jamal Wilson's status in a week after he was suspended indefinitely. But a source with direct knowledge inside the Rams’ program doesn’t expect Wilson to return based on a series of missteps. Wilson may be averaging 17.5 points a game but the Rams have won just one game this season and are one of the biggest disappointments in the country. The Rams are leaning heavily on freshmen since the upperclassmen have been subpar. Baron, who normally has had URI competitive in the A-10, despite not making the NCAAs during his previous 10 years, has two years remaining on his contract. It’s hard to say if he’s under any heat since cash-strapped URI would have to come up with money it may not have to make a change.