Pitt routs Savannah State in opener
By John Harris
Published: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 6:51 p.m.
Bigger, faster, stronger.
Pitt had its way Friday night in its 88-55 wire-to-wire mastery of Savannah State at Petersen Events Center.
A 19-2 run to open the game, courtesy of impenetrable defense leading to high-percentage accuracy on offense, created the desired result in Pitt's 17th consecutive season-opening win.
Six Panthers scored in double figures.
Turning a negative into a positive, junior big man Derrick Randall replaced senior Talib Zanna in the lineup and jump-started Pitt with four early points. Zanna, who averaged 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, was suspended for a violation of team rules.
Randall, in his first season at Pitt after playing two years at Rutgers, recorded career highs in points (12) and rebounds (12) in 20 minutes.
After learning he was the emergency starter, Randall, who missed 10 days in preseason because of a knee injury, wanted to “go out and do everything right.”
He scored back-to-back baskets in the first three minutes, including a putback in which he cleared out space to secure an offensive rebound.
“He's one of our guys, no question,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “He's a good rebounder, good hands, and he finishes better than probably anticipated.”
James Robinson led Pitt with 13 points, Durand Johnson scored 12 points, Lamar Patterson and Josh Newkirk added 11 points apiece, and Cameron Wright had 10 points.
The Panthers' biggest concern entering the game was their ability to handle Savannah State's quickness. In retrospect, it was Savannah State's inability to handle the Panthers' quickness, along with Pitt's superior size and athleticism.
Patterson was brilliant with six points, four rebounds and six of his game-high seven assists in 13 first-half minutes. Patterson recorded more assists than the entire Savannah State team, which totaled three in the first half.
“It starts with him,” Dixon said. “I thought his passing early in the game was tremendous.”
Pitt led 40-13 at halftime, limiting Savannah State to the Panthers' third-lowest opponent point total in a half since 1954-55.
Savannah State opened the second half on a 10-4 run on 5 of 9 shooting, tallying nearly as many points in six minutes as it did in the first half. Pitt, meanwhile, missed five of its first six attempts.
“Guys lost focus a little bit,” Patterson said.
Despite not playing with the same level of urgency, the Panthers' advantage never below 21 points.
They led by as many as 38 after halftime.
Notes: Dixon didn't go into detail about Zanna's one-game suspension. “He didn't do the right thing,” Dixon said. Zanna will return for Tuesday's home game against Fresno State. ... Pitt outrebounded Savannah State, 47-28. ... Junior Aron Nwankwo missed the game to be with his mother, who is ill.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Malkin, Crosby
- Kittanning man part of wrestling show benefitting Ford City Summerfest
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Mailings from Pa. incumbents to potential new constituents under fire
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- Talent on ice, effort off it help franchise grow hockey in Columbus
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- Attorney wants lesser term for woman in Greensburg torture death
- Pastors offer help in days following Franklin Regional stabbings
- LaBar: Did WWE referee know finish to Undertaker match?