The coming out party for Pitt freshman center Steven Adams took place Saturday night at Petersen Events Center, and the 8,115 who sacrificed a weekend night to watch the Panthers (10-1) play Bethune-Cookman got to witness a bit of history as well.
Adams recorded his first career double-double in Pitt's 89-40 victory. The 49-point margin represents the most lopsided victory in the 11-year history of Petersen Events Center. It is tied for the sixth-largest victory in school history and was 10 points shy of the school record, which was set in a 108-49 win against IUP in 1986.
Playing against a team whose tallest starter was 6 feet 7, Adams was dominant from the outset. He was 7 for 10 from the field and 2 for 3 from the free-throw line in 22 minutes.
"He's been playing good in practice," Pitt junior J.J. Moore said. "We've seen a lot of progress. He's playing with a lot of confidence. Before every game, I try to pump him up. I try to get him to play hard, to defend and to score. That's what he does well."
It was only the third time this season that the 7-foot Adams scored in double figures. His previous career high was 13 against Delaware and Fordham.
"Steve played well and continues to improve," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We understand it will never be enough."
Dixon's tone was a bit defensive because Adams' development had been criticized by some national pundits in recent weeks. Adams was one of the highest-rated recruits to enter the Division I ranks this season, but he is a bit behind the pace that some of his freshmen peers.
Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, the top freshman in Division I, is averaging 11.1 points and 9 rebounds per game. Isaiah Austin of Baylor, another top freshman center, is averaging 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Adams is averaging 7.8 points and 6 rebounds per game. When he was asked what a game like Saturday night could do for Adams' confidence, Dixon said: "He's got quite a lot of confidence. He's a freshman and he'll get better and better each day. He's played good in a number of games when he hasn't scored as much. I think he's doing a lot of great things. He's a confident kid. He's more unselfish than anything. That's probably the thing he has to continue, but recognize that he doesn't want to be too unselfish."
With such a decided size advantage, the Panthers clobbered the Wildcats on the backboards. Reserve center Dante Taylor had as many rebounds (11) as the entire Wildcats team. The 11 rebounds were the fewest in a game for an opponent in Dixon's tenure as head coach.
"Size is part of it," Bethune-Cookman coach Gravelle Craig said. "But if you're competing it doesn't matter how big you are. It shouldn't be that big of a disparity. We just didn't give effort. It was probably our worst game all year, effort-wise. You can't coach that. That's what I was disappointed in. It wasn't necessarily our execution or anything. It was the effort. We didn't show up and fight."
The Panthers used a 16-1 run over the final 5:05 of the first half to take a 44-24 lead into halftime. They continued the bludgeoning in the early moments of the second half when they scored 12 of the first 16 points to take a 56-28 lead. It only got more lopsided from there as the Panthers continued to dominate physically.
Pitt outscored Bethune-Cookman, 60-18, in the lane. Moore, a reserve power forward, had a team-high 18 points and starting power forward Talib Zanna added 11. The Panthers shot 67 percent from the field and had 28 assists on their 37 field goals.
The game plan was to exploit the size advantage and Dixon said the Panthers carried out their marching orders well.
"It was first and foremost what we wanted to do offensively," he said. "That's always our emphasis. We want to play inside-out. We have good passer in our bigs. We have good decision makers. We don't want to settle. We want to get touches and penetration. It could be something we do really well this year."
NOTES -- Pitt's bench scored 39 points. ... Reserve guard Cameron Wright had seven points... Bethune-Cookman shot 30.2 percent. ... Paul Scotland led the Wildcats (4-8) with seven points.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter: @rayfitt1.