The Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball team once again had their way with an inferior opponent, defeating Delaware State by a score of 71-43.
“The talent level took over the second half,” Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said. “They were able to get out in transition. They beat us up on the boards. Anytime you get outrebounded 35-14, you’re not going to win very many basketball games.”
The Panthers came out of the gates early as Tray Woodall scored four points and Steven Adams hit a reverse layup in traffic to give the Panthers an 8-3 lead going into the first media timeout.
Pittsburgh received a boost when J.J Moore had a fadeaway that beat the shot-clock buzzer.
Delaware State had a big response as Tahj Tate made two threes including one off the glass to keep Delaware State in the game.
At the 10:56 mark of the first half, Trey Ziegler made a basket despite being fouled to get the Panthers back on track.
8:45 marked the first and only lead for Delaware state as Tate made a circus layup. The lead was short lived however as Talib Zanna made two free throws.
As the half wore on, the Panthers were able to better judge the 1-3-1 defense Delaware State was using.
Just before the break, Pitt had a chance to add to their slim lead but instead had a turnover that resulted in a layup. Still they led 31-27 at the half.
The Panthers shot 68.4 percent from the field at the half and outrebounded the Hornets 14-7 despite Dante Taylor being out of the game with a heel injury.
In a familiar pattern, the Panthers came out much more focused in the second half. Zanna had a couple of big dunks and a layup; Patterson had a dunk of his own, putting the home team up by double digits with a little under 16 minutes left in regulation.
The Panthers further pulled away with the combination of Woodall to Adams which resuled in two dunks. Ziegler had another “and-one” opportunity and he made the free throw. He would get a similar opportunity later in the game.
Zanna was a huge reason why the Panthers succeeded in the paint. Pitt outscored the Hornets 48-18 in the key. Zanna nearly had a double-double with 20 points and nine rebounds while Adams nearly had one of his own with 10 points and eight rebounds.
It is the second consecutive game in double figures for Adams and Patterson noted his progress.
“He played great,” Patterson said. “He was in the right spots, was aggressive with the ball and looked to finish. It was just a matter of time until he became comfortable out there. He’s doing that and I feel great that he’s doing that. It’s great that he’s coming around right before Big East play.”
Next up for the Panthers is their final non-conference game of the regular season Sunday against Kennesaw State. The tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Of note: Delaware State scored 16 points in the second half.
Final word: Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon on Zanna: “Just simple, finding his game and letting things come to him and finishing without bringing the ball down. I used the comparison to Aaron Gray. It’s keeping the ball up, not bringing it down, not relying on the dribble and getting to the right spot. He’s making free throws and that’s helping to. I think he’s really more simplified his game, rather than focusing on what he does well and that’s always a challenge for guys. [He’s] playing to his strengths.
“He’s doing a really good job. He works really hard, but he’s always done that. Now, I think he’s understanding and just feeling more comfortable. He’s just gotten better. Again, he’s got really good guards passing him the ball too. So, when you look at their assist numbers, I think that has a lot to do with it as well.”