Pitt notebook: Rebounding keys blowout win
When DePaul coach Oliver Purnell looked onto the court Saturday during his game against Pitt at Petersen Events Center, he saw familiar faces.
The players he sees every day ran, jumped, guarded and shot (although not well).
But at times, Purnell had to wonder how much of a challenge his team offered the Panthers, who recorded a historically easy 93-55 victory in front of 12,512.
“Literally, once (Pitt) got going, they were shooting until they made it,” he said.
Purnell was referring to the first half when DePaul's biggest players — 6-foot-9 Donnavan Kirk and Peter Ryckbosch and 6-10 Derrell Robertston — had no defensive rebounds.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon preaches rebounding and often complains that he doesn't get enough of it from his team.
But the Panthers were dominant on the boards from start to finish, getting 58 rebounds (20 offensive) to DePaul's 34.
Pitt's rebounding total was a season high — beating the previous high of 49 against Duquesne on Dec. 5 — and well above its average of 34.6 entering the game.
“You got bad offense and you got crushed on the boards,” Purnell said, summing up his team's fifth loss in six Big East games this season.
Dixon said the strength of his team is its bench, and it showed against DePaul.
The five players who didn't start — Cam Wright, Durand Johnson, Dante Taylor, Trey Zeigler and J.J. Moore — almost outscored the entire DePaul team (52-55). The Panthers' reserves did outscore Pitt's starters, 52-41.
That's the second time that has happened this season in the Big East, the first occurring at Villanova on Jan. 16 when Pitt's backups had a 31-27 advantage over their starting teammates.
Everyone has a hand
Long before the end of the game in the second half, all 10 players had at least one point, rebound and assist.
“The coaching staff has faith in everyone,” said Wright, who came off the bench to score eight points after playing only five minutes in the past three games.
Wright's stat line was impressive because it included everything. Besides points, he had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
“As players, as teammates, as brothers, we have faith in each other,” Wright said.
Zeigler leads the way
Zeigler didn't start, but he led in Pitt in scoring with 18 points, the sixth different player this season to achieve that distinction.
“We kept coming at them with our unselfishness,” Dixon said.
Pitt totaled 23 assists, the most in a Big East game this season.
Too many mistakes
Despite the easy victory, Pitt committed a season-high 18 turnovers.
“We had too many,” Dixon said. “You are going to have more against the way DePaul plays (up-tempo). We have to be able to play through the press and attack on the backside.
“We did a good job, but too many (turnovers) and some were unforced.”
The only players who didn't get in the game were Chris Jones and Aron Nwankwo, who are redshirting, and Mike Lecak, who must sit out the season after transferring from Wheeling Jesuit.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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