Pitt cruised to a 59-43 win over Kennesaw State on Sunday. Pitt improves to 12-1 on the season, winners of its last eight.
Talib Zanna led with 12 points and 9 rebounds. James Robinson added 8, followed by J.J. Moore and Steven Adams each with 7. Lamar Patterson added 6 points and a game-high 4 assists. Delbert Love and Nigel Pruitt both lead Kennesaw State in double-figures, with 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
"We're starting over, 0-0, I told our guys, so we're going forward," head coach Jamie Dixon said. "I never thought we got in a rhythm today. (Kennesaw State) did a good job. We never got into a rhythm offensively. Still pretty good. We outrebounded them by a big number, and we guarded well."
Despite the loss, the Owls were first out of the gate. Myles Hamilton put his team on the board first with a three-pointer. A second three from Hamilton gave his team a 9-6 lead just four minutes into the game. The first four field goals that Kennesaw State connected on were three-pointers.
The Owls kept it close until Pitt went on a 16-2 run, to close the first half. Pitt outscored the Owls 18-2 in the paint for the first half, with 8 of those points coming from Zanna during the 16-2 run. He finished with 10 total points in the first half to lead all scorers. Pitt also controlled the glass, with a 22-11 edge. The 16 points allowed by Pitt were tied for the ninth fewest in a half by a Pitt opponent in school history.
The only thing that wast there in the first half for Pitt was three-point shooting and free throws. The Panthers missed all three shots from beyond the arc, and were just 2-6 from the line.
Travon Woodall hit Pitt's first three-point of the game, putting the Panthers up 39-24, with just under 15 minutes left in the game. Pitt still controlled other areas sucks as rebounding, assist to field goal and assist to turnover ratio; areas that have been noticeable in non-conference play.
Things got a little heated late in the second half. Hamilton committed a flagrant foul on Pitt's Moore, who came down hard on his way to the hoop. Hamilton disagreed with the call, and was given a technical. Woodall came on to shoot the free throws, as Hamilton had to be separated by his teammates, heading over to the bench.
As a result of the extra free throws, Pitt opened its largest lead of the game at that point, 49-34, with 7:34 left. Pitt finished the game with a 32-12 edge in the paint for the game, and a 38-21 edge in rebounding.
Pitt also got a nice lift from its bench play. The Pitt bench outscored the Kennesaw State bench 22-11, led by Moore and Dante Taylor. Kennesaw State head coach Lewis Preston--who spent six years as an assistant at Notre Dame coaching against Pitt--felt bench contributions like that is something that will factor in when conference play starts.
"I think their depth can cause problems (for opponents)," Preston said. "I think Dante Taylor, when he comes in, gives them an added dimension inside. I was very impressed with Steven Adams from the time he walked on the floor. I think he and Zanna play pretty well together. Robinson does a good job of controlling the game. It will be interesting to see Trey Zeigler step up from this point forward, and (Durand) Johnson."