The Pitt Panthers men’s basketball team put in a complete game in its 75-54 victory over Fresno State on Tuesday night at Petersen Events Center.
The Panthers were led by Talib Zanna’s 19 points and 10 rebounds in his return to the team following a one-game suspension. Cameron Wright added 13 points.
“This was a good win for our guys tonight,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “I thought Fresno State played really well, despite some matchup disadvantages. I am looking forward to watching them progress as well as watching our own team progress.
“They did do some things really well, but we were able to exploit the things that they didn’t do so well. Jamel Aris and Michael Young played tremendously well for us down low tonight.”
Paul Watson led Fresno State with 18 points. The Bulldogs scored the first six points of the game, but Pitt confused its opponent by switching into some zone defense.
“We got off to a great start, and they did something that we really hadn’t expected or seen a whole lot of,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said. “They played a little zone defense tonight. Over the years they’ve been a really good man-to-man team, but [they] did a great job with their zone tonight and really affected us and kind of took us out of rhythm with what we were doing early.”
Another huge advantage for the Panthers was the rebounding. The Panthers won this battle 48-25. Derrick Randall had six rebounds in 12 minutes and Mike Young added nine in 17 minutes.
“Coach Dixon emphasizes rebounding in practice every day. I thought we would come out and outrebound them,” Zanna said. “I thought that Mike, Derrick and I did a good job rebounding today. It’s a good start.”
The Panthers shot 44.8 percent from the field in the game. They will next play Howard Sunday at 5 p.m.
Cameron Wright’s progression draws notice
In his first two seasons, Cameron Wright, struggled to find the court. While he had a couple breakout games last season, he struggled with his consistency and lack of playing time. His confidence was not high to say the least. Wright worked hard this offseason knowing that he could see an increase in his role.
Now, his number is being called regularly and he is averaging 11.5 points through two games.
“My confidence level has gone up a lot,” Wright said. “My teammates set me up on offense. A few times I knocked down some shots. I am also in better shape and that’s the biggest thing that coach [Dixon] emphasizes. He said I have improved.”
Many fans expect much more out of Wright, some to the point that he will lead the team in scoring. It may be added pressure for the redshirt junior, but Dixon says he has handled it will and has improved in many facets.
“First off, he is older and he has gone through a lot over the course of his career,” Dixon said. “He’s shooting a lot better, which seems to help most players get into a better rhythm. Maybe I should have played him more than I did last year. He feels more comfortable than last year and doesn’t let the little things get to him as much as he used to.”