Patterson leads Pitt to 96-60 exhibition win over Slippery Rock
Pitt senior Lamar Patterson was listed as a forward Friday night, but he plays like a guard.
More and more, Patterson resembles former Pitt standout Brad Wanamaker, a do-it-all type who was as comfortable passing as shooting. As an added bonus, Patterson doesn't mind playing defense.
Patterson was all over the court in the Panthers' final exhibition tuneup, a 96-60 win over Division II Slippery Rock at Petersen Events Center.
“We've always had perimeter players who are good passers, decision makers,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “I thought Lamar was very unselfish. He made some great passes.”
In the first half, Patterson stuffed the stat sheet with five of his 11 points, four of his game-high five assists and three of his game-high five steals.
His presence was felt at both ends of the court.
Patterson probed Slippery Rock's defense just enough to create a passing lane so he could squeeze a pass inside to senior Talib Zanna for a dunk. Another time, Patterson picked the right moment to feed sophomore James Robinson for a wide-open 3-pointer. Late in the opening half, Patterson drove the court for a twisting layup to cap a 9-0 Pitt run that answered Slippery Rock's 6-0 burst.
At the start of the second half, Patterson planted himself in the lane and drew a charge that negated a Slippery Rock layup.
Patterson's veteran leadership rubbed off on Zanna (14 points, eight rebounds).
When Zanna gets going early, it seems to elevate his game. He becomes more aggressive going to the basket and is a more dangerous defensive presence. With the 6-foot-9 Zanna looming in the paint, Slippery Rock made only 25.9 percent of its shots in the opening half and shot 33.9 percent overall.
It was an impressive display for Pitt, which struggled for long stretches last week in a 72-59 win against D-II UC San Diego.
Slippery Rock is more talented than UC San Diego, despite losing four starters. The Rock equaled a school record with 23 wins last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. Maurice Lewis-Briggs led Slippery Rock with 20 points.
Pitt sophomore Durand Johnson scored a game-high 21 points. Junior Cameron Wright added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Notes: Pitt junior forward Derrick Randall was in the lineup after sitting out with a knee injury. ... The Panthers have won 30 consecutive exhibition games since a 92-90 loss to Marathon Oil on Nov. 3, 1999. ... Pitt hosts Savannah State in the regular-season opener Nov. 8.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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