Panthers end conference play with defeat of Kennesaw State


December 19, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward J.J. Moore (44) shoots the ball against the Delaware State Hornets during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 71-43. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball team found little trouble against the one win Kennesaw State Owls and it showed as they got their 12th win of the season by a final score of 59-43.

The Owls opened the game with a three from Myles Hamilton and a Delbert Love three put Kennesaw State up 6-4. Another Hamilton three forced a Panthers timeout as they found themselves down five points.

Pitt quickly recovered and were led by James Robinson in the comeback as he had four points in the stretch. J.J. Moore also made a fadeaway two to recover from a broken play as the shot clock was set to expire.

Kennesaw State played a first half similar to Mount St. Mary’s the Panthers first opponent of the season as their three point shooting kept them in the game.

The Panthers were able to pull away as the misses and miscues from the Owls increased. It took Kennesaw State 15 minutes to make a shot that was not a three. The shot was a failed dunk attempt that turned into a layup for Hamilton.

Pittsburgh shot 43.8% from the field. They outscored Kennesaw State in the paint 18-2, a big advantage and just that one layup and two free throws represented the only points not scored on threes. The Panthers won the rebounding battle 22-11 and dominated offensively 11-2.

The second half was much of the same story in regard to the Panthers keeping their lead. Kennesaw State tried to use more of a press defense which forced a Pitt timeout. Their three point shooting kept things interesting and with 13 minutes left in regulation it was just a 39-29 game.

The lead extend as the Panthers made three free throws on a combination of a technical and flagrant foul with 8:52 remaining in regulation. The lead was 49-34 at that point.

While the Owls became more physical they were unable to get the ball in the basket as the Panther lead extended to 20 points.

Zanna led the Panthers with 12 points and Love led the Owls with 12 points of his own. All 10 Panthers scored points.

The Panthers will next face the Cincinnati Bearcats at home next Monday [December 31] as they open Big East play. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.

Of note: The victory was the 250th of Jamie Dixon’s career

Dante Taylor was back after a heal injury. Dixon said Taylor was not 100% but he got some minutes as Big East play approaches. It was a similar story for Durand Johnson who had a hamstring problem Wednesday and got sick on Friday. Dixon said he practiced yesterday and felt 100% and he got some minutes and had four points.

They said it:

Dixon on Pitt’s ability to go 10 deep as Big East play approaches- “If all 10 are healthy and out of foul trouble, it’s not rare (to see that). We’ve experienced that the past few game. We have 10 very good players and they’re getting better. We have four young guys that and a sophomore that have battle through some tough challenges. That’s half our team. Growth is where we are looking and we’re showing tremendous improvement through the year. We have to keep doing that. We aren’t where we need to be and I think that any coach feels that way right now.”

Cameron Wright on opening against a ranked Cincinnati team- “You know, they’re a great team. Give them credit. Of course, give Kennesaw State credit tonight. They did play hard. Of course, you know, we look forward to these types of games. We looked forward to the Michigan game. Unfortunately, we fell short. They’re coming to our place, so they should be looking forward to playing us. You know, they beat us last year, so they know we have something for them this year.”

Wright on James Robinson- “He’s not a freshman. Everybody knows he’s ahead of his game, that’s why he plays so much. He’s a great player.”

Robinson on how non-conference schedule helped younger players such as himself- “I think it helped me a lot; just trying to get game experience. I feel like every game was a learning experience for me. I’m definitely going to be able to take the good things and try to take those into Big East play and work on my mistakes, so I can limit them.”

Kennesaw State Head Coach Lewis Preston on Pitt- “That’s the biggest, most physical team that we’ve played all year. Probably will be the biggest and most physical team that we’ll play throughout the course of the season. I knew going in that it was going to be a battle on the glass and 19 offensive rebounds, 38 rebounds overall, that’s kind of been indicative of Pitt, probably over the course of the last 15 years. Believe me, I had six not so great years watching them when I was at Notre Dame as an assistant.”

“I think their depth can definitely cause problems. I think probably one of the things that will be interesting will be to see how they continue to shoot from the perimeter. You know, only taking eight three-point attempts. Will teams zone them, change up some defenses and do different things of that nature? You know, when you’ve got 10 bodies that are physical, strong, active, that can wear down opponents.”

I think Dante Taylor when he comes in gives them an added dimension inside. Although, he’s been a starter for a couple of years. I was very impressed with Steve Adams from the time he walked on the floor, watching him warm-up. Saw him a little bit when he was at prep school. I think he and [Talib] Zanna play well together. [James] Robinson does a very good job of controlling the game for them. It will be interesting to see how Trey Zeigler from this point forward will step up and [Durand] Johnson, as well. I told Jamie [Dixon] I liked this group. I told Brian Regan, who I’ve known for a long time, that it looks like these guys like playing with each other.”