Pitt eases by Mount St. Mary’s 80-48 in openerBy WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer Friday, Nov 9, 2012
Tray Woodall added 14 points and six assists for the Panthers, who improved to 10-0 in season openers under coach Jamie Dixon. Highly touted freshman center Steven Adams had eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 26 minutes for Pitt.
The Panthers set a school record by shooting 70 percent (34 of 48) from the field.
Xavier Owens led the Mountaineers with 15 points and Rashad Whack added 11 but Mount St. Mary’s couldn’t keep up with the bigger, deeper Panthers.
Pitt outscored Mount St. Mary’s 58-14 in the paint and shut Mount St. Mary’s down following a slow start. The Panthers broke it open with a 12-0 run to start the second half.
The Mountaineers are in the midst of rebuilding under first-year coach Jamion Christian. The 30-year-old Christian is the third-youngest coach in Division I and spent last season as an assistant to Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart. It certainly showed in the first half, as Mount St. Mary’s hardly bothered to enter the lane against the bigger, more athletic Panthers.
Instead, the Mountaineers hoisted up 3-pointer after 3-pointer. For a while, it worked.
Mount St. Mary’s hit six 3s in the first eight minutes, taking a brief 18-17 lead and getting Dixon so angry he called time out.
Eventually, the Mountaineers cooled off.
Pitt never did.
The Panthers were nearly flawless offensively during the first half, shooting 75 percent (18 of 24) from the field, many of them layups off baskets in transition or steals.
They were almost as good in the second. Getting into the lane whenever they wanted, the Panthers pounded the Mountaineers with the kind of crisp offensive execution that hardly made it look like they were playing in the season opener. Pitt’s field goal percentage broke the school record of 69.8 set against George Washington in 1980.
The Panthers are looking for redemption in their final season in the Big East before heading to the ACC. Pitt is coming off a dismal 2011-12 campaign in which it missed the NCAA tournament for the first time under Dixon.
The influx of Adams, freshman point guard James Robinson and Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler should give the Panthers the depth they lacked last season, when they fell apart after Woodall missed a significant amount of time due to a lingering abdominal injury.
Robinson played so well in early practices he actually beat Zeigler out of a starting job. Robinson had six points and just one turnover in 29 minutes while Zeigler came on late to finish with 11.
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