PITTSBURGH—The Panthers played their final tune-up game Sunday afternoon. They looked tired at times and committed ten turnovers, but still managed to pull away from Kennesaw State, 59-43 at the Petersen Events Center to give Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon win number 250.
We didn’t have our best performance tonight but that’s behind us now,” Dixon said. “We’re going forward now and starting 0-0. Now we’re getting ready for conference play.”
Pitt improved to 12-1 in pre-conference play with the only loss coming against Michigan in November.
“We took care of business and won all the games we were supposed to,” Dixon said. “
We improved, we just need to continue to improve. The team in December isn’t the team you want in February and March.”
Ten Panthers scored, although Talib Zanna was the only one that scored in double-figures with 12. He also led Pitt on the boards with 9 rebounds. He scored ten points in the first half to fuel the Panthers’ 30-16 half-time lead.
James Robinson had eight points, Steven Adams had seven points and seven rebounds and J.J. Moore had seven points and pulled down eight boards.
“As a team we’re very unselfish. We can all make plays for each other,” Robinson said. “It shows when everybody is scoring.”
The Owls looked more like a football team trying to play basketball but did make nine three-pointers on 15 tries to make the game look closer than it actually was. They were led by Delbert Love’s 12 points on four three-pointers and Nigel Pruitt’s ten points.
Pitt out-rebounded Kennesaw State 38-21 overall including 19 offensive rebounds. They also dished 14 assists on 22 baskets, much to the disappointment of Kennesaw head coach and former Notre Dame assistant Lewis Preston.
“This is the biggest and most-physical team we’ll play all year,” Preston said. “[Strong rebounding has been indicative of the way they play the last 15 years. I saw it first hand when I was an assistant at Notre Dame.”
The Panthers now start Big East play on New Years Eve day by hosting undefeated Cincinnati.
“Everybody is wondering where they’re at right now,” Dixon said. “With our conference, we’re going to learn real quick.”