Pitt’s awesomely efficient offense may take a dip Saturday

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UPDATE: Pitt coach Jamie Dixon announced Woodall will miss a month due to injuries.

Pitt’s offense may not be quite as crisp Saturday when it faces Tennessee. And it has nothing to do with the Volunteers’ defense.

Junior point guard Tray Woodall left their win against Duquesne with  leg injury, then had an MRI and an X-ray on his groin and abdomen on Thursday. His status is uncertain.

“He’s in a lot of pain, there’s no question about it,” coach Jamie Dixon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We just want to get all of the data and make sure everyone takes a look at it and sees it before we make any decisions or calls on that.”

Woodall is Pitt’s second-leading scorer (14.1 ppg) and among the nation’s leaders in assists (8.3 apg; though his numbers might be inflated a bit). He’s also playing nearly 32 minutes a game, making him one of the more invaluable players on Dixon’s squad and undoubtedly a large part of D-I’s most efficient offense.

If Woodall can’t go – or plays a vastly reduced role – Dixon told the paper that freshman John Johnson could see an increased role, though freshmen Isaiah Epps and Cameron Wright could do the same.

“We have different guys,” Dixon told the paper. “They’ve all played at different spots. We have practiced those situations. It seems like we’ve been practicing those situations more than we would have liked. We’ve just been in a situation all year long from the start with injuries and the preseason and a couple of guys out, we’ve had to do more things than in the past.”

One thing’s for sure – it won’t be senior shooting guard Ashton Gibbs. His role is to score. No more pseudo-playmaking roles.

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Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: