PITTSBURGH—Pitt was bothered early by DePaul’s pesky full court press. The Blue Demons were unable to capitalize though and The Panthers swatted them away like a bunch of mosquitoes on their way to a 93-55 thrashing at the Petersen Events Center Saturday afternoon in front of 12,512. It was Pitt’s biggest margin of victory in the Big East.
“Games like this just don’t happen in this conference. You just want to get a win,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We were balanced and had a good team effort from our guys.”
The Panthers (17-4, 5-3 Big East) five turnovers in the first five minutes, and a season-high 18 for the game, but they shot 50 percent from the field while DePaul (10-9, 1-5 Big East) shot less than 28 percent from the field.
“We should have done better with the turnovers. We had too many,” Dixon said. “You’ll have more against the way DePaul plays, but we had a few too many. Some were unforced.”
When the Panthers did beat the press, they were able to convert a lot of their chances into layups and high-percentage shots.
“DePaul’s style of play is hit or miss,” Dixon said. “The key was to get layups and take high percentage shots and putbacks. That’s what we looked for and got.”
Trey Zeigler paced the Panthers off the bench with a Pitt career-high 18 points.
“I know what coach wants me to do and hopefully I can play more,” Zeigler said. “Being out there, I was able to find my groove.”
All ten Panthers scored and Zeigler was joined in double-figure scoring with Lamar Patterson, who scored 15, and J.J. Moore, who added 10 points.
Every Panther also had a rebound as Pitt out-rebounded DePaul 58-34 including 20 offensive boards. Steve Adams led Pitt on the boards with a career-high 14 rebounds.
Every Panther also had an assist, led by Tray Woodall who had eight. He commented how the Blue Demons pressed successfully early-on, but as the game wore on, the Panthers were able to break the press and convert run-outs to layups.
“They did bother us early. They wanted to speed us up, which they did. We had 18 turnovers,” Woodall said. “We wanted to get layups. We took what they gave us.”
DePaul was led by Brandon Young with 13 points and Moses Morgan with 11. Cleveland Melvin entered the game as the Blue Demons’ top scorer, averaging almost 20 points a game, but Pitt’s defense held him to seven points, much to the disappointment of DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell.
“This was obviously one we would like to flush away and burn the tape. We were off but Pitt had something to do with that,” Purnell said. “Pitt did what they do good. They forced us to take some bad shots inside, they were really good defensively and really good on the offensive glass. It was our bad offense that got them going.”
The Panthers have now won five of their past six games with the loss being to Marquette in overtime. They have a tough week ahead, though. They travel to fifth-ranked Louisville on Monday and host third-ranked Syracuse on Saturday.
“We have to take care of business a day at a time, not a week ahead,” Dixon said. “We focus on the here and now."