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Pitt/Cincinnati quotes and notes

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 *** No. 22 Pitt lost its third game in a row and is virtually assured of dropping out of the AP poll, which will be released tomorrow. It will be the first time in 40 polls that Pitt is unranked, dating to Dec. 28, 2009.

*** Center Talib Zanna, who got his nose banged in the first half, had concussion symptoms and sat out the second half. He is day to day heading into Thursday’s game at DePaul.

I spoke with athletic trainer Tony Salesi after the game and he said freshman John Johnson banged knees during the first-half collision that left the Philly native on the court. Salesi said everything was fine, other than giving a quick scare to the training staff.

 Johnson returned to play 14 minutes in the second half and finished with four point, five assists and three turnovers before fouling out with 21 seconds to play.

*** Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said the 3-2 zone the Bearcats used — which seemed to confound Pitt for a couple of possessions — was installed during Saturday’s practice.

Cronin knew Pitt coach Jamie Dixon would quickly figure out the 2-3 zone Cincinnati used in the come-from-behind victory over Oklahoma last week. “My respect for (Dixon) is off the charts,” Cronin said. “”We put in a 3-2 zone yesterday, it bought us some time and they struggled offensively. The element of surprise. You roll the dice. That was a big key for us.”

 Here are some quotes from the post-game press conference “scaring us.”

Ashton Gibbs

On his ankle

“It was feeling all right. I’ve just got to suck it up. It was all right.”

On the game

“We’re just missing shots. We’ve just got to get better.”

On the three-game losing streak

“We’re still confident. It’s one loss. We’re going to get right back to it. We’re going to be fine. No struggle, no reward. That’s something I always live by. That’s something we are going through right now. At the end of the day, we can’t hang out heads. We have to have faith because at the end of the day, this team is capable of winning and beating anybody. We just have to keep playing.”

Nasir Robinson

On Cincinnati’s Justin Jackson (six points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals in 32 minutes)

“(Jackson) just fought and wanted it more than us tonight.”

On playing center for the first time

“They were bringing the big men up. Coach put me at the five so we could switch one through five and try to stop them on defense.”

Mick Cronin

On six-game winning streak  

“It’s very easy for me to coach this basketball team right now.”

 On Sean Kilpatrick

“Our best shooter  took a charge to win the game.”

Jamie Dixon

On game  

“We’re really disappointed with the outcome.”

 On locker room

“Our guys are playing hard. We worked hard this week. They are obviously disappointed. They put their hearts out there this week in getting ready. They put it out there tonight and just came up short. We can’t make excuses. We need to find a way. We have the guys to get it done. We need to go forward and do that.”

On turnovers

“Turnovers were the most disappointing part. I certainly didn’t think we would have problems with the zone. We haven’t played against it well in the past few games.”

On handling pressure

“Simply put, we need to be better and we should be better against that. We’ve played against it a lot. I really thought this year this would be a team with low turnovers and good against the press, that’s but that hasn’t been the case especially the past four or five games.”

On lack of driving

“We need to get more penetration and get to the basket more and get other people shots. We are lacking in that area. We don’t have enough guys getting other guys shots with penetration. That’s a problem. It’s something we were doing better earlier in the year and we’re not doing as well now.”

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