NEW YORK -- Pitt coach Jamie Dixon walked away from the loss Wednesday night against No. 4 Michigan feeling like his team should have won the game. Playing in consolation games of tournaments can sometimes be a tricky proposition for coaches, but Dixon need not have worried about the way his players would respond.
The Panthers answered the bell from their first loss this season with a resounding, 85-59 victory Friday afternoon against Delaware at Madison Square Garden. Delaware beat Virginia in the preliminary round of the NIT Season Tip-Off and lost to Kansas State by three points Wednesday, but the Blue Hens were no match for the still perturbed Panthers, who put on an offensive clinic that had Delaware coach Monte Ross marveling afterward.
"I thought that was one of the more astounding offensive displays that we've ever had against us," said Ross, who is in his seventh season as head coach.
"And we pride ourselves in being a very, very good defensive team."
The Panthers (5-1) shot 59 percent from the field, dished out 25 assists on their 33 baskets and only had six turnovers.
Junior forwards Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson were the catalysts. Zanna had 18 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth career double-double and the first this season. Patterson had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double and his second at Madison Square Garden. His first came in this building last season against Oklahoma State.
After totaling only 10 points in the first four games, Patterson scored 30 in the two games this week. He was on the periphery of the offense in the first four games, but became more of a focal point this week.
"I think that's what Dixon wants" Zanna said. "He wants us to put the ball in Lamar's hands off the ball screen because he's such a good passer."
Patterson, who had four assists and no turnovers, also looked for his shot more this week. After taking only 16 shots in the first four games he took 19 in two games, including 11 Friday. He was 6 for 11 from the field and 3 for 3 from the free-throw line against Delaware.
"I don't know if he was more assertive," Dixon said. "He made shots that were wide open. Everybody was like, 'Why are you playing Lamar?' Well, he was our best player in practice for the first four weeks. We just didn't see it happen [in games]. He was playing good basketball. He didn't score a lot. He was unselfish. He had high assist numbers.
"He played pretty good defense during those games when we weren't scoring a lot. So I wasn't panicking."
Three other Pitt players scored in double figures. Senior guard Tray Woodall and freshman center Steven Adams scored 13 apiece and J.J. Moore came off the bench to score 10.
Adams hit double figures for the second time and bounced back from a zero-point, 1-rebound effort against Michigan.
"I thought this was a good day for Steve," Dixon said.
The Panthers jumped on Delaware early and never allowed the Blue Hens to feel comfortable.
Pitt led, 23-6, after the first 10 minutes and 41-21 at halftime.
Delaware guard Devon Saddler scored 28 points, but the deficit was never smaller than 17 in the second half.
The Panthers held Delaware to 38 percent shooting.
"The guys responded in a good way today," Woodall said. "We knew we wanted to pick the team up defensively, and we wanted to build on the [Michigan] game.
"We just wanted to respond and build off what we didn't accomplish last game."
NOTES -- Pitt's bench contributed 25 points. The reserves have scored 24 points or more in every game this season. ... Adams and backup center Dante Taylor combined for four rebounds, with Adams getting three of those. ... The Panthers were 15 for 17 from the line. ... Freshman point guard James Robinson was the only Pitt player not to score, but he had three assists and no turnovers in 24 minutes. ... Pitt will face Howard Tuesday at the Petersen Events Center.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published November 24, 2012 5:00 AM