PITTSBURGH—Pitt (6-1) got off to a slow start in the first half but pulled away in the second half for a 70-46 win over visiting Howard (1-6) at the Petersen Events Center Tuesday night.
Travon Woodall drives against a Howard defender
“Howard kept battling,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We gave up way too many layups in the first half.”
Howard mixed up zones throughout the game and it worked in the first half. The Panthers did a better job in the second half in penetrating the paint.
“[Howard] set the tempo of the game with the zone. They slowed us down. They used a 2-3, 1-3-1, 1-2-2. We saw it all. They were really packing it in and it slowed us down,” Dixon said. “We need some more offensive rebounds against the zone. We’re not getting enough of those. We’re not getting enough putbacks.”
The Bisons scored 12 second-chance points in the first half as they out-rebounded Pitt both before the break (17-16) in the first half and overall (37-36).
“The rebounding thing really stands out,” Dixon said. “We need to address that. It’s just not getting done.”
Dixon was happy about the assist-to-basket ratio. The Panthers dished 19 assists on 26 made baskets.
“We did a good job passing the ball,” Dixon said. “We played unselfish.”
Robinson dished eight assists himself. He also scored in double figures with 11 points including 2-for-2 from three-point range and 4-for-6 from the field overall.
Lamar Patterson hit five three-pointers including four in the first half which helped Pitt take a 36-28 at the break. Patterson scored 15 and dished five assists. After shooting 4-for-17 from three-point range at the start of the season, Patterson is 8-for-15 from three-point range in the last three games.
“Ive been shooting with confidence. I really didn’t change anything,” Patterson said. “Today my shots just fell. It felt good.”
After only scoring two points in the first half, Talib Zanna scored 10 in the second half, 12 overall, and led Pitt on the boards with eight.
“Everybody was focused in the second half. We were finding the right shots. James [Robinson] did a good job on [assists],” Zanna said. “We started running more in the second half and just kept it going.”
Howard assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry felt the free throw differential against his team was a factor. He also thought Zanna helped turn the tide against the Bisons with his effort in running the floor in the second half.
“We wanted to make it hard for them in the paint. [Pitt] shot 18 free throws in the game and we shot three. That’s a big difference,”[Zanna] was running the floor like a madman. [The Petersen Events Center] has always been a tough place to play.”
Trey Woodall added 15 points. J.J. Moore scored nine including a thunderous dunk midway through the second half that gave Pitt a 20-point lead.
Pitt freshman center Steve Adams only scored two points. He pulled down six rebounds overall. He only had one rebound and no points in the first half. Dixon feels he has to work on playing against the zone and improve his technique under the basket.
“[Adams] has to get used to playing with more people around him,” Dixon said. “When we get the ball to him inside, he needs to make that play. He’s holding the ball too long.”
Pitt returns to action Saturday night at home against Detroit.