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Woodall making his point on 'D'

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Pitt fifth-year senior point guard Tray Woodall said he's healthy enough to play in the Panthers' game against Villanova on Wednesday. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

There was plenty to like about Tray Woodall's performance against Duquesne on Wednesday night, including his 24 points while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Coach Jamie Dixon called it “tremendous,” and he wasn't just impressed by Woodall's offense.

“He played good defense, too, and good help defense, which is really the thing we need most from him,” Dixon said. “We have lot of guys who can score.”

Pitt has four nonconference games left, beginning with Saturday against North Florida at Petersen Events Center. Woodall is shooting 47.4 percent from the field in nine games. After missing five months recovering from hernia surgery, the 6-foot guard said he was 100 percent heading into the season. If he wasn't, the Panthers had the option of playing freshman James Robinson.

That's not how things have worked out.

It may not be how Dixon envisioned his starting lineup, but Robinson proved to be too good on both ends of the floor to keep on the bench.

With Robinson manning the point, Woodall has been playing off the ball more. Dixon said it isn't a big deal from the standpoint that Woodall has always known both positions, but his success does speak to his attitude and commitment to having a strong senior year.

“He's made an effort to become a better defensive player and he still needs to get better, but (Wednesday) was good,” Dixon said. “I liked how he played down the stretch when we had a big lead. He continued to take good shots and that was a real good thing to see.”

Woodall said as his career's progressed, he's been logging more hours in the gym and shooting a lot more.

“I'm just trying to make sure I'm ready to knock down shots and my body's in shape to do it on a consistent basis.”

Pitt faces a North Florida team tonight that's 3-5 with losses at No. 17 Memphis, Florida State, Kansas State and, most recently, No. 21 Minnesota. The Ospreys, coached by Pittsburgh native Matt Driscoll, led in the first half against both Memphis and Minnesota, but have been unable to sustain a lead for much longer than 10 or 11 minutes.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com or 412-320-7980.

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