An impressive victory, but as is often the case for the Panthers, most out of conference opponents will not tell us anything about how they will do against actual top level teams.
A few weeks ago a lot of people doubted when I said that the Panthers will end up with at least 25 wins again, but they are now 8-1 and with an easy schedule for the next month, 16-1 going into Marquette on January 14th and Syracuse two days later looks very possible. The two best opponents before those two tough games, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame, are not very good this year. There is also an excellent chance of a 4-0 start in the Big East with a road against DePaul, and two home games against Cincinnati and Rutgers, following the initial road game at Notre Dame.
As for this game, Ashton Gibbs struggled some early but then came up big with 20 points, including 6 for 15 from three, plus 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Nasir Robinson was strong again with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. Dante Taylor chipped in with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Talib Zanna added 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 17 minutes and Lamar Patterson had another decent all around game with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
I'm still fascinated by what the youngsters are doing since their upside is what may finally get the program past their usual tournament exit point. First the bad. Khem Birch started but foul trouble led to him playing only 11 minutes. He only had 2 points, but still impressively got 6 rebounds in his short stint. For some strange reason, Cameron Wright started again, and failed again, this time with 2 points in 16 minutes.
On the bright side, John Johnson, who has quickly become a fan favorite, again replaced Wright and again had a good game. The true freshman finished with 13 points and 5 assists in 24 minutes, and once again shot well with two three pointers and 5 for 5 from the line. The best of the young players, however, was sophomore J.J. Moore who totaled 16 points, thanks to shooting 4 for 6 from three, while also adding 5 rebounds.
Next up for the Panthers they will host Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.