Men's College Basketball
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Pitt routs UNC-Asheville in tourney opener

Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Ashton Gibbs led the way with 26 points, as Pittsburgh pulled away in the second half to earn an easy 74-51 win over UNC- Asheville in second-round action of the NCAA Tournament.

Nasir Robinson netted 12 points, while Gilbert Brown added nine points and nine rebounds for Pittsburgh (28-5), the top seed in the Southeast Region, which will face eighth-seeded Butler in the third round on Saturday.

The Panthers captured the Big East regular-season championship and earned a top seed for the second time in three years.

"It starts on the defensive end," said Gibbs. "Our coaches do a great job of scouting the other team, so it was just about executing ... our defensive schemes and really rebounding the ball."

Matt Dickey had a team-best 21 points for 16th-seeded UNC-Asheville (20-14), which edged Arkansas-Little Rock in overtime on Tuesday as part of the field's new "First Four" round.

The Bulldogs needed Dickey's three-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime in that one. They emerged with a hard-fought 81-77 win, but shot only 30.9 percent in Thursday's loss.

Dickey shook off the notion that playing twice in less than 48 hours had that much of an effect.

"This is such a cool experience to get to play in the NCAA Tournament. Adrenaline gets you through the game," he said. "And like coach (Ed Biedenbach) said, it was a physical game and Pittsburgh is a very good team and we knew we had to play really, really well and rebound. They hit a couple threes and made a little run. I think we probably got a little tired, but I wouldn't say that had an effect for us losing the game."

UNC-Asheville held a 9-7 edge nearly five minutes into the contest before Robinson evened the game with a tip-in, starting a 16-2 run in the process. Gary McGhee's dunk capped the surge to put Pittsburgh ahead 23-11 with 7:41 before halftime, but the Bulldogs didn't go away.

Chris Stephenson's tip-in finished a 10-3 run to draw UNC-Asheville within five with 2:34 before the break, and the Panthers took a 30-25 advantage into the locker room.

The second half was a different story, though. After a pair of free throws by Dickey brought the upset-minded Bulldogs within three early in the stanza before seven straight, capped by a Robinson jumper, had the No. 1 seed ahead by double-digits, 39-29, and in position to pull away.

Gibbs hit a jumper to put the Panthers in front by 13 with 11:09 to play, and their lead reached 20 after Brown drained two free throws for a 65-45 game with 5:16 left. Pittsburgh held a double-digit advantage from there.

Game Notes

This was the first meeting between the Panthers and UNC-Asheville...McGhee ended with seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Pittsburgh, which shot 42.4 percent from the field and 8-of-19 from three-point range...The Bulldogs made a woeful 3-of-19 from long distance.

03/17 20:16:12 ET