Pitt rallies to beat Penn State in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Pitt and Penn State hadn't played basketball against each other in eight years, and Jamie Dixon was preaching patience to his Panthers.
It didn't take long to renew the rivalry, at least in terms of intensity.
The Nittany Lions had lured Pitt into taking contested shots, then became the first team to hold a halftime lead over the Panthers.
Pitt relied on fifth-year seniors Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson to rally for a 78-69 victory over Penn State on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Petersen Events Center.
It was the 146th meeting between the schools but the first since Pitt's 91-54 victory over Penn State in 2005.
Zanna made 7 of 11 shots and scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for the Panthers (8-0). The 6-foot-9 center also had 10 rebounds, a career-high four blocks and scored off a steal.
“That's what you expect from one of your senior leaders, not just getting it done offensively but defensively with the steal and the blocked shot,” Patterson said of Zanna. “That's Pitt basketball right there.”
Patterson added 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and he made a key 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining, then a pivotal three-point play with 1:04 left to give the Panthers a seven-point lead.
“I thought Lamar and Talib did a great job getting us back in the game,” said Pitt point guard James Robinson, who added 10 points. “They brought more energy than we had at the beginning. I think we came out flat. Talib brought it at both ends of the court, Lamar with his playmaking.”
Penn State (6-3) was led by fifth-year senior guard Tim Frazier, who scored 15 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as Penn State dictated the pace in taking a 30-28 halftime lead.
Frazier, a 6-foot-1 fifth-year senior who missed most of last season with an Achilles injury, made 6 of 9 shots from the field in the first half and finished 10 of 17.
“He's quick and obviously can score the ball,” Robinson said. “He was able to come off a lot of ball screens. He did his thing. Hats off to him.”
Pitt was averaging a 19.1-point halftime lead and had never trailed at intermission, but it shot 28 percent (7 of 25) in the first half before making 17 of 29 (58.6 percent) in the second half.
Zanna sparked the Panthers early in the second half, converting two three-point plays and then stripping Frazier near midcourt and scoring on a breakaway to give Pitt a 42-41 lead at 13:46.
“I thought Talib was really good the whole game,” Dixon said, “as far as being patient and letting the game come to him.”
After D.J. Newbill, who added 18 points for Penn State, scored to tie it at 47, Zanna answered with a jump hook and then went up and under for a 51-47 lead.
“Talib was great,” said Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, who recruited Zanna as an assistant at Villanova. “He did what he was supposed to do, and Lamar hit a huge 3 that really helped them out and gave them some energy.”
Penn State used a 7-0 run to cut it to 59-58, but Robinson hit two free throws and Patterson a 3-pointer. An Allen Roberts 3-pointer cut it to 63-62. Then Zanna swatted Newbill on a baseline drive, setting up a transition basket by Robinson.
“I thought I saw goaltending, but they saw it differently,” said Chambers, who believed Zanna hit the backboard. “It was a close call.”
Robinson would then step between Frazier and Jack for a steal and score to give the Panthers a 67-62 lead as they pulled away for the double-digit win.
“We're a better team than what we played,” Dixon said. “I'm glad we played a better game in the second half.”
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.
- Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Penguins notebook: Rutherford proves savvy in deal
- Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel
- 2B Walker, Pirates smash through Tigers pitching in road victory
- Pirates notebook: Cole cool about hostile comment
- Expect drawn-out state budget impasse, Pa. political analysts say
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- Writings attributed to jailed Plum Teacher dubbed evocative of stalker
- New Kensington residents rally in support of 82-year-old robbery victim
- FBI searching for Homestead man indicted for sex trafficking in children