Unexpected scoring from Randall helps Panthers

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Pitt coach Jamie Dixon knew center Derrick Randall would provide rebounding and interior defense off the bench, but he didn't realize he was also getting a player who has a nice finishing touch around the rim.

While Randall has amassed 18 rebounds and two blocked shots in two games, he has also been an offensive spark off the bench, averaging 9.5 points.

"He has a good touch, a good feel around the basket," Dixon said. "The thing we are working with him on is good balance and patience at the same time prior to that.

"I think he has the ability, it was a nice play we watched on film, and there are some ways [he is learning] he can get layups that he probably hasn't thought of before."

Randall started the opener in place of Talib Zanna, who was serving a one-game suspension, but now that Zanna has returned, Randall is again a reserve center.

He said that role suits him fine, and he is trying to learn and contribute as much as he can. He added that his offensive game is a work in progress.

Scouting Report
Matchup: Pitt (2-0) vs. Howard (2-2), 5 p.m. today, Petersen Events Center. This is the first of four games in the Progressive Legend's Classic.
TV, Radio: ESPN3; KDKA-FM (93.7).
Pitt: Is 25-0 against teams from the MEAC. ... Is 4-0 against Howard. ... Beat the Bison last season, 70-46. ... Is 103-3 in nonconference games at Petersen Events Center. ... Lamar Patterson has made 68 consecutive starts. ... Talib Zanna recorded his seventh career double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) in Pitt's win against Fresno State.
Howard: Opened season with wins against Washington College (69-52) and Gwynedd Mercy (83-66). ... Leading scorer is James Daniel (23.3 ppg). ... Has had a roster overhaul. Only one player remains who played in last year's game -- F Prince Okoroh.
Hidden stat: Pitt was 0 for 11 from 3-point range against Fresno State, the worst 3-point shooting performance in school history.

"I am having fun out there," Randall said. "I am rebounding a lot but I feel real good out there. I think whoever is out there playing, we just need to focus on rebounding."

The Panthers will play the first of their four games in the Progressive Legend's Classic today against Howard at the Petersen Events Center.

The event will take place over the next two weeks. Pitt plays at home against Howard, against Lehigh Wednesday and then Nov. 25-26 at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pitt will play Texas Tech in the first game at Barclay's Center and face either Stanford or Houston in the championship or consolation game the next night.

But that is down the road. The first item of business in the Legend's Classic is the Bison, who come to the Petersen Center in the midst of a challenging four-game road trip.

Howard played at Old Dominion Wednesday, Harvard Friday and, after playing at the Petersen Center tonight, will play at Houston Thursday.

Dixon said that the Bison likes to play pressure defense and have some athleticism.

"We did some good things against Fresno, we got a big lead, but I wish we could have sustained it," Dixon said. "There were a lot of good things from that game, we throw out a lot of positives and reinforcement and then some things we can also point to and correct.

"They will be pressing, but they are a different team than last year, they are obviously part of this tournament as I made that clear to our players. We signed up for the Legends Classic which is one of the best tournaments, but you never know who you are going to get and we got Howard and Lehigh for these two games at home.

"It is one of the best tournaments, it is in Brooklyn, it is on national TV, it is one of those things that we want to be a part of."

Howard and Pitt played last season and the Panthers cruised to an easy, 70-46 win. Pitt is 4-0 all-time against Howard and 25-0 against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

As Dixon said, however, the Bison are a completely different team. In fact, the only returning player who had a significant role in that game is 6-foot-5 junior guard Prince Okoroh, who is the Bison's second-leading scorer.

Okoroh scored six points and grabbed five rebounds last year against the Panthers. This year, he averages 12.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.

The Bison's leading scorer is 5-foot-11 freshman guard James Daniel, who averages 23.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.

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