Pitt's big men towering in easy victory
Tray Woodall steals the ball from Delaware State's Albert Thomas in the second half of Pitt's 71-43 victory Wednesday at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Talib Zanna dunks for two of his game-high 20 points in the Panthers' rout of Delaware State Wednesday at Petersen Events Center.
Freshman James Robinson battles Delaware State's Marcus Oliver for a rebound.
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Pitt's frontcourt quartet was reduced to a trio Wednesday night when senior center Dante Taylor had to sit out against Delaware State with a foot injury. Without an eligible replacement on the roster, Talib Zanna, J.J. Moore and Steven Adams received more playing time, and they delivered a strong performance in a 71-43 victory at Petersen Events Center.
Zanna tied a career high with 20 points. Moore added 15 and Adams 10 for the Panthers, who used a strong second half to turn back a pesky Hornets squad that trailed by only four at halftime.
Pitt outscored Delaware State, 40-16, after halftime with the interior trio leading the way. Zanna, Moore and Adams accounted for 28 of the 40 points. For the game, the Panthers outscored the Hornets, 48-18, in the lane and won the rebounding battle, 35-14.
Zanna is no stranger to playing center. He started 12 games there last season. His ability to go back and forth between power forward and center without missing a beat was a big plus for the Panthers.
"It's something he's done well before and we practice it," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's interesting. We only have 10 guys we're playing yet I feel like we have the ability to play more rotations, more different groups because of the versatility of some of our guys. We were down to eight guys and I still feel like we had a decent rotation. We had guys not playing out of positions they hadn't practiced."
Reserve guard/forward Durand Johnson only played eight minutes because of a hamstring injury. The injuries to Taylor and Johnson are not considered serious, but their availability for a game Sunday against Kennesaw State is not known.
Even though Delaware State trailed, 31-27, at halftime the Hornets failed to threaten in the second half. The Panthers opened the half on a 15-2 run to end any thoughts of an upset.
"I thought the talent level took over in the second half," Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said. "They were able to get out of transition and they beat us up on the boards. Any time you get outrebounded, 35-14, you're not going to win very many basketball games. I thought that was the difference in the ballgame.
"They kind of took it to another level in the second half. Pretty much took us out of a lot of the things we wanted to do. To have a chance, we knew that we could not give them that many possessions. We tried to slow it down and create some opportunities for ourselves. I thought the first half we did an excellent job of doing that. Second half, they came out with a little more focus with a little more transition and beat us up on the glass."
Pitt shot 61.2 percent. It was the second consecutive game the Panthers shot 60 percent or better from the field and the third time this season. Zanna was 9 for 13, Adams 4 for 5 and Moore 6 for 10.
Adams scored in double figures for the second consecutive game. He posted a career-high 16 points in an 89-40 victory Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.
"He played great," junior forward Lamar Patterson said. "He was in the right spot. He was aggressive when he got the ball. He looked to finish. It was just a matter of time. I feel like it's great that he's doing that going into Big East play."
Delaware State was the latest in a long line of non-power conference teams to play the Panthers, but the Hornets might compete for the NCAA tournament berth from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They were coming off an 80-76 overtime loss at Penn State and beat Delaware in a game before that.
Guard Tahj Tate led the Hornets with 19 points, but no other players reached double figures. They shot 46 percent in the first half, but only 31 percent after halftime.
"We were able to make some tough shots in the first half," Jackson said. "I think the difference in the game was their defensive intensity. They came out the second half and played to the level they're capable of playing. It's not so much of what we didn't do. They took us away from a lot of things we wanted to do in the second half."
NOTES -- Pitt's bench scored 25 points. ... The Panthers had 24 assists and nine turnovers. ... Only one of those turnovers came after halftime. ... Freshman point guard James Robinson had a career-high nine assists and only one turnover for Pitt
First Published December 20, 2012 12:00 am