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Nov. 27, 2011

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Robert Morris at No. 17 Pitt, November 27, 2011, Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

No. 17 Pitt 81, Robert Morris 71

Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon:

Opening statement:

"I was really happy about how we played, especially in the first half. I was really excited about what we did defensively. We held them 41 percent from the field and outrebounded them by eight. In the second half, we got off to a 22 point lead, so that was a good thing. I wish we could have finished a little better, but we knew Robert Morris was going to battle. That is what they do, they play hard and get after it no matter the score. They are going to be a good team, Robert Morris. Andy has done a good job with them and I think they are going to be very good. They are a very experienced team, and they have guys that are redshirts and have sat out a year, so they're old and experienced and they play very hard. I think they are going to have a great year in the Northeast Conference. I wouldn't be surprised if Robert Morris and Wagner are at the top of their league."

"So, very good win for us. I like how we did a lot of good things. We got good performances from our bench. Obviously, Cameron Wright played very well, John Johnson did really well and Talib Zanna played well. Lamar Patterson is out, but he will be back for our next game, and with Dante Taylor, he felt like he could go, but we have procedures and policies in place and we were told that he had to sit out this game as well. So, anticipate him being back as we move forward, but that is the situation on those players. Again, though, Talib had 15 rebounds in 24 minutes. He played really well in the last game against Penn with limited minutes because of a foul in the knee and got a little banged up. However, he's been practicing really well, and I think you guys are starting to see it in game situations with his most recent performances."

On getting younger players more comfortable in practices after Long Beach State:

"Well I've been saying from day one that that was our focus. If you look at our roster, there are a lot more underclassmen then upperclassmen, and even though we don't focus on that, we realize that there is opportunity to improve. It is nothing we did not know before, and it is something we have been continuing to build on and strive for to improve our younger players. It was good to see Cameron come out and play with some confidence. Talib has been practicing well, and like I said, I think you all have seen it in the last couple of games. He's been as good as the other big guys we've had in the past, and I would say that he is one of the most productive players in practices this season along with Dante, considering that Nasir missed so many practices, as well as others who also missed a few practices."

On Talib's knee in practice yesterday:

"Well we went light and did not do any contact, so Talib was fine in practice yesterday."

On RMU not expecting Khem's defense:

"Well the team is trained to drive in and draw help instead of just throwing up shots. Also, they got 17 offensive rebounds which I think is part of that penetration and putting guys out of position that helped tonight. But Khem came out and did a good job at getting over to the basket after every shot. He's got good timing and good length. He had six blocks tonight, but we still really feel like we can do better defensively and that there is still room for improvement."

On Cameron's steals:

"It was good to see. That is something we saw him do in practice last year, and again he is a freshman. It was great to see him play well. He let things come to him and got some drives. He moved well without the basketball, which he does. So, I thought we attacked their switching man pretty well, especially in the first half. Overall, Cameron played really well and defended really well, and got in some valuable minutes for us."

On the shooting percentages coming down:

"It's getting better, but we know it is not where it needs to be. It has been fun to watch them improve, but there is still a long way to go. We understand that. We aren't satisfied, and I have certainly made it clear to our players that we are not satisfied and how we need to finish it off a little bit better in the second half. Again, we can't take steps backwards. We have too many young guys, too many guys that are figuring things out still. The older guys have different roles now, so they have to do things that they have never done before too, but that is not an excuse."

Quoting Pitt's Cameron Wright:

On his defense giving him confidence for his offense:

"I definitely feel like my confidence tonight came from defense. Coach and the entire staff stress defense a lot, so I made sure that was what I brought to the table."

On his number of steals tonight and getting in their lanes:

"Coach enforces defense a lot, but I'm also good at playing the passing lanes and used that to my advantage tonight."

On team's defense:

"We were playing good defense as a unit. I'll give Robert Morris credit, though, because they kept working hard and extended that last minute for some time, so they played a good game tonight."

On playing small forward:

"Our two and our three are very similar, so it was not much different from playing a two."

Quoting Pitt's Khem Birch:

On what has been different these last few games:

"Confidence. Also, I'm playing more minutes now and have been doing well in practice."

On any similarities from the Penn game and tonight's game:

"I had confidence in both games. Last game I did well and tried to take that and use it in this game and tried to do my best."

Quoting Robert Morris' Head Coach Andrew Toole:

On Pitt's bench contributions:

"Two of their starters were out tonight, so players that normally would not get as many minutes were trying to earn more minutes.  They were out there trying to prove themselves to their coaches and being very aggressive.  They had a huge impact and Talib Zanna was incredible on the glass.  He looked at times as though he was playing volleyball on the glass by himself."

On the second half rebounding edge:

"We were down 20 at halftime and I told my players to go out and try to get a rebound.  I wanted them to play hard and not get embarrassed.  Anybody can play from 20 points down."

Quoting Robert Morris' Velton Jones:

On Pitt's frustrating defensive looks:

"They were switching on defense and not giving me open looks."

On what he got out of today's loss:

"We need to play a full 40 minutes of good basketball and not just 20 minutes."

Quoting Robert Morris' Russell Johnson:

On teams' second half performance:

"We started executing plays, getting open shots and we played hard on both ends."

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