The 17th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers close out play in the Philly Hoops Classic when they welcome the Robert Morris Colonials to the Petersen Events Center this evening.
The Panthers are 4-1 on the young season, with the lone loss coming in a shocking setback at home to a surprising Long Beach State team. Pittsburgh was able to put that loss behind it with a 73-69 win over La Salle and a 78-58 rout of Penn in earlier games of this event.
The Colonials are also 4-1 on the year and just like Pittsburgh, Robert Morris opened the season with two wins before suffering a loss, losing to Penn, 66-60. The Colonials have bounced back with victories over James Madison and La Salle.
This is the 30th all-time meeting in this series, with Pittsburgh winning all 29 prior games.
The Colonials are not an offensive juggernaut by any means, averaging a modest 69.0 ppg on 41.9 percent shooting. Still, the team has a near +10 scoring margin, holding opponents to just 59.2 ppg. Despite the pedestrian numbers, the team does have a go-to-guy and prolific scorer in Velton Jones. The junior guard is putting up 19.4 ppg thus far, while leading the team in assists as well (23). Coron Williams is a viable second option at 13.4 ppg. In the team's latest win over La Salle, Robert Morris netted just 51 points, but held the Explorers to a mere 44 points and 31.9 percent shooting. Jones was just 4- of-15 shooting, but still paced the team with 14 points. Russell Johnson chipped in with 12 points in the win.
The Panthers are coming off a 20-point win over Penn this past week, as Pitt led from start to finish. Four Panthers finished in double figures, led by Ashton Gibbs' 16 points. Khem Birch recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Nasir Robinson and J.J. Moore with 14 and 12 points, respectively. The Panthers have been a strong offensive squad this year, averaging 80.4 ppg on a healthy 51.6 percent shooting. The team has a trio of strong scorers, led by Gibbs' 19.0 ppg. Robinson and Tray Goodall provide plenty of support at 16.0 and 15.6 ppg, respectively. Woodall is also the team's primary distributor, doling out 41 assists in the first five games.