Pitt cruises past Texas Tech in Legends Classic
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — So much for a challenge.
After winning its first four games by an average of 26.3 points, Pitt was expected to face its first test of the season against Texas Tech in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic.
Instead, the Panthers jumped out to a 26-point lead by the time the Red Raiders reached double digits, and ran away with a 76-53 victory Monday night at Barclays Center in their first road game of the season.
“We were just doing what we do: We played unselfish basketball, we took the open shots and we knocked down the shots,” said Pitt fifth-year senior Lamar Patterson, who scored a career-high 23 points. “Everything just clicked in the first half, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Pitt (5-0) will play Stanford (5-1), an 86-76 winner over Houston in the other semifinal, in the championship at 9:30 Tuesday. Texas Tech (4-2) will play Houston (5-1) in the consolation game.
It was only the second meeting between Pitt and Texas Tech (4-2) — the Panthers won 80-67 in the 2008 Legends Classic — and this one was distinguished by the defense Pitt played, forcing 17 turnovers and holding the Red Raiders to 38.8 percent shooting (19 of 49).
“I felt our offense has been ahead of our defense all year long,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “That's been our emphasis the last two weeks, getting the message across about getting stops.”
Patterson beat his previous high (against Marquette last Jan. 12) by a point. The 6-foot-5 swingman had 14 points, two rebounds, three assists, four steals and one blocked shot in the first half. He finished 8 of 13 from the field, including four 3-pointers.
Pitt outscored Texas Tech, 27-4, over a 9:13 stretch. The Red Raiders reached double digits on a Ross 3-pointer at 4:21 to make it 34-11.
By halftime, Pitt led, 41-18.
“I thought Pittsburgh was pretty impressive,” Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said. “They executed, shot the ball well and did some things well. We seemed to be intimidated in the first part of the game, missed some baskets. I was really impressed with their defense.”
It marked the fifth consecutive game Pitt has scored 75 points or more this season. The Panthers, who are averaging 80 points per game, shot 47.2 percent (25 of 53) from the field, made 10 3-pointers and scored 20 points off turnovers.
There was one telltale sign they were in Texas Tech's head.
“By the scoreboard,” said Pitt redshirt junior Cameron Wright, who added 12 points, three assists and three steals. “We outscore people by defense. If we get stops, then we score baskets. If we continue to get stops, then that's how you win the game.”
Texas Tech was led by fifth-year senior forward Jaye Crockett, who scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, including nine in the first 5:45. The fifth-year senior forward was 9 of 11 from the field and had a team-best seven rebounds.
“They gave us a wake-up call,” said Texas Tech guard Jamal Williams Jr., a Brooklyn native. “It's time to take it to another level.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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