Young boys gather for high-fives and used towels as the Pitt men's basketball team leaves the court after their 84-52 win over Howard Sunday at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland.
By Paul Zeise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pitt had its best shooting half ever Sunday in the first half against an overmatched Howard team and the game quickly became a laugher.
The Panthers had such a big lead early that it was hard to tell if they even broke much of a sweat as they coasted to an 84-52 win against the Bison before a crowd of 8,349 at Petersen Events Center.
It was the first of four games the Panthers will play in the Progressive Legends Classic. They play Lehigh Wednesday before heading to Brooklyn, N.Y., for two games at the Barclays Center Nov. 25-26.
Pitt set a school record for field-goal percentage in a half by hitting 17 of 21 shots (81 percent) in the first half Sunday. That and a decided physical advantage allowed Pitt to sprint to leads of 18-1 and 23-8.
Coach Jamie Dixon said that while the Panthers' shooting in the first half and the rest of the game was solid, he was more impressed with their shot selection and offensive execution.
"I don't know that it was shooting, but execution, decision-making, passing," Dixon said. "Sometimes it is guys making shots, but this was running good offense. We had 13 assists at half and that, to me, is the biggest indicator. We were getting layups.
"We were getting some penetration, inside touches and kicking out, and those are the 3-pointers that you make. Last game, we were 0 for 11 from the 3-point line and everybody asked about it. Today, we were 8 for 15 from the 3-point line and of course, nobody asks."
The Panthers were also good from the free-throw line, shooting 18 for 23 (78 percent).
After the initial burst, the Panthers continued their onslaught -- powered by a barrage of 3-pointers from Lamar Patterson (4 for 4 from 3-point range in the first half) -- throughout the half. And just for good measure, Jamel Artis and Michael Young punctuated the first half with back-to-back fastbreak dunks.
Patterson finished with 20 points and five rebounds and said it was just one of those days where every shot seemed to go in.
"We work on shooting every day. The last game we weren't feeling it, today we were," Patterson said. "Some games it goes in and some games it doesn't, that's just how it goes. But we have a lot of unselfish players who did a good job of driving, kicking it out and then we were able to knock them down.
"I just saw my shot was going in, and I kept taking it."
Cameron Wright, who scored nine points, said it shouldn't be shocking that Patterson scored so much.
"He can score the ball," Wright said. "I see it every day. Lamar Patterson can score the ball. He is a great player, he works hard, he deserves it. He wasn't shooting it that great the first couple of games but like I said, he can score the ball, that is what he does."
The second half was not particularly eventful as the Panthers came out a bit sloppy, then pushed the lead to 30 and Dixon was able to give some of his reserves -- and deep reserves -- playing time.
The hot-shooting first half for the Panthers was much needed coming off their worst shooting performance in school history Tuesday in the win against Fresno State.
Pitt was 6 of 8 from the 3-point line in the first half against Howard and finished 29 of 50 from the field (58 percent).
Young added 11 points and grabbed two rebounds while Wright and James Robinson combined for 17 points and seven assists.
Freshman guard James Daniel led the Bison (2-3) with 22 points and Solomon Mangham added 10.
Howard is in a rebuilding season. The Bison feature nine freshmen and no seniors.
"When you have nine freshmen, sometimes you tend to lose your voice," Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said. "We have some young, talented freshmen -- especially for mid-major -- but they are freshmen."
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.
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