Lamar Patterson failed to break Sam Young's record for most points in a game by a Pitt player at Petersen Events Center and fell one short of scoring his 1,000th career point Saturday when Pitt played Cal Poly in a non-conference game.
OK, so maybe Patterson wasn't perfect, but he was still really good and a big reason the Panthers extended their home winning streak to 10 games.
Patterson missed only four shots, made four 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 30 points to lead Pitt to a 73-56 win against the Mustangs before a crowd of 9,736.
The game was tight through the first half, but the Panthers (11-1) made a decisive 16-5 run early in the second half to take control. A big part of that run was Patterson making shots, as he scored 17 of his points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
He said it was nice to have a big game offensively, but he didn't feel like he had to force any shots because he got so many open looks as a result of the Panthers running good offense.
"I felt good and my shots were going down," said Patterson, who was 11 of 16 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. "It was the team playing unselfish and all of my points were in the flow of the offense. I thought we did a good job of swinging the ball around and it just shows how unselfish we are.
"I really didn't notice how many points I was scoring. I saw it was going in and really just wanted to try to win."
Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said he knew Patterson was good, but didn't realize just how good, and that he was extremely impressed not just by the point total but by the way Patterson got there.
"I was very impressed with [Patterson]," Callero said. "What I love about him is he has that NBA prospect body but he also had NBA patience and he played at a speed where he let the game come to him. I thought he was aggressive, but not forcing anything. His efficiency tonight was really impressive when you look at his numbers.
"He scored 30 points but it wasn't 30 points on 25 shots, it was 30 points on 15 shots and none of them were rushed or selfish. I think he probably felt after their last game at Cincinnati he didn't play as well as he could have and he stepped up and showed great leadership."
The 44-43 loss against Cincinnati Tuesday was a sore spot for Patterson, as he missed two free throws late that would have put Pitt in good position to win. Afterward, he said he felt like he let his team down.
Patterson said that game provided some motivation for him Saturday against the Mustangs, but the larger issue to him was making sure he did whatever it took to get the Panthers back in the win column.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said he wasn't surprised that Patterson bounced back because he is a senior who has played in a lot of big games over his career and he said the Panthers offense flows a lot better when the ball goes through Patterson's hands.
"We have to get him more shots and more touches because he is such a good passer," Dixon said. "Obviously, the points stand out, but I think you look at that last pass he made to James [Robinson] and James knocking down the shot showed a lot of the things he can do. He has obviously been really good and he has been pretty solid all the way through.
"We didn't have much discussion about [the Cincinnati game]. I had no doubt he would respond in a positive manner because he has been so good all year long. He handled it well after the game, which I think spoke volumes, and it was also a great indicator of how he would handle it going forward."
Pitt led, 28-23, at the half Saturday despite shooting only 36 percent from the field and turning the ball over seven times.
The Mustangs kept scrapping and made it 37-34 on two free throws by David Nwaba with 14:38 to play, but the Panthers responded when Patterson assisted Cameron Wright on a layup that sparked the deciding run.
Pitt led the Mustangs by 12 or more the final 10 minutes and pushed the lead to 20 with 1:49 to play on a jump shot by Durand Johnson.
Callero said the biggest difference between the two teams was the physicality and toughness of the Panthers that wore down his team.
Johnson was the only other Panther who scored in double figures with 12 points and Robinson added 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
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First Published December 21, 2013 6:54 PM