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Pitt rallies to beat Detroit

| Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, 9:14 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Pitt's J.J. Moore (#44) goes up for a shot against Detroit during the first half of their game on Saturday evening at the Petersen Events Center. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Tray Woodall (#1) goes up for a shot against Detroit's Ugochukwu Njoku (#15) during the first half of their game on Saturday evening at the Petersen Events Center. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Talib Zanna (#42) goes up for a shot against Detroit's Ray McCallum (#34) during the second half of their game on Saturday evening at the Petersen Events Center. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

Talib Zanna found his offensive game after a shaky start Saturday night. And Pitt solved the 2-3 zone it foundered against early, allowing the Panthers to erase an eight-point halftime deficit on the way to a 74-61 win over pesky Detroit at Petersen Events Center.

Zanna scored a team-high 16 points, and the junior forward's block and 3-point play at the other end of the floor with less than four minutes to play effectively ended Detroit's chances of springing an upset in front of an announced crowd of 9,179.

Tray Woodall scored 14 points despite dealing with foul trouble, and freshman James Robinson added 11.

Detroit built a double-digit lead in the first half by knocking down 3-point shots and making Pitt look tentative with its zone. The Panthers were considerably more aggressive in the second half, shooting almost 64 percent to pull away from the Titans, who played in the NCAA tournament last season.

“We're not good enough against the zone,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said, “but most teams aren't right now. We're not (attacking) it well from the beginning. I'm not sure why that is.”

Pitt (7-1) plays Duquesne on Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center. Detroit dropped to 2-4 despite getting a game-high 24 points from star guard Ray McCallum Jr.

Pitt clamped down on McCallum and his teammates after allowing Detroit to shoot almost 50 percent from the field. Using several different players on McCallum in the second half, most notably rangy sophomore guard Cameron Wright, Pitt held the junior to seven points after halftime. It also limited the Titans to 32 percent shooting.

Wright started the second half in place of Woodall, who had three fouls, and helped Pitt hold Detroit scoreless in the first six minutes of the half.

“He gave us that energy, that spark that we need from him,” Woodall said.

Detroit opened a 25-12 lead with following 3-pointers by Jason Calliste and McCallum and led by eight at halftime. They could not sustain that pace in the second half as Pitt scored 16 of the first 20 points and eventually pulled away.

“We knew they were going to make a run and they wore us down,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. “I think they're an NCAA tournament team.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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