Pitt basketball enjoys season of giving

| Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, 11:44 p.m.

Pitt has always had good numbers when it comes to having high assists and low turnovers.

In 10 games this season, the Panthers have been even better than usual. Going into Saturday's game against Bethune-Cookman, they are second in Division I with 18.9 assists per game, just behind No. 21 North Carolina (20.1), and first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.05). They're turning the ball over an average of 9.2 times per game, second-lowest in the country.

“The numbers this year are pretty impressive, there's no question,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “I think having two point guards on the floor has something to do with it a lot of the times, but we've done that before. We'll see as we get into conference play, but I think even at this point you can tell.”

Freshman James Robinson is tied for eighth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.25), and Lamar Patterson isn't far behind, coming in at 12th (3.90). Tray Woodall ranks 20th at 3.29.

Dixon said Patterson gives them a different component than they've had in the past — a small forward who's also a high assist-to-turnover guy. Their big men have also done a decent job in that area, and Dixon said it's a combination of everything that's making them so successful.

“It has to be everything because you can't have the numbers that we have and have it be just one thing or one guy,” he said. “It's really something that's spreading, too.”

The Panthers racked up 21 assists in their last game, an 89-47 win over North Florida, their third-highest total of the season behind Delaware (25) and Fordham (24). Ospreys coach Matt Driscoll said after the game that they counted on the Panthers passing a lot and hoped to use it against them.

“They probably could take a whole lot more shots, especially when they get in close, but they're always looking to pass the ball,” Driscoll said. “That's kind of what we game-planned a little bit. We knew they weren't going to take shots unless it was under 15 seconds or 10 seconds because they're always trying to get the next guy a shot and sometimes that hurts them when they do that. … But it's impressive the way they share the sugar.”

Robinson believes his team's willingness to share has helped it get to a 9-1 record.

“I wish sometimes the big men would be a little more selfish when they get the ball and score it,” he said. “But across the board we're unselfish, and I think that's one of the reasons why we've been successful so far.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com or 412-320-7980.

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