Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt 77, Lehigh 58 Zanna, Johnson Jump-Start Panthers to 4-0 Start

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt 77, Lehigh 58 Zanna, Johnson Jump-Start Panthers to 4-0 Start

Article excerpt

Pitt got off to another quick start Wednesday night against Lehigh and had another great game shooting, quickly turning a somewhat competitive game into a blowout.

Senior Talib Zanna scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Panthers to a 77-58 victory against the Mountain Hawks before a crowd of 9,544 at Petersen Events Center in their second game in the Legend's Classic.

Pitt (4-0) got a huge performance from Zanna, but sophomore reserve guard Durand Johnson also had a big game off the bench, hitting 5 of 8 3-point attempts to finish with a career-high 15 points. Sophomore point guard James Robinson scored only two points but added 11 assists and didn't commit a turnover.

Coach Jamie Dixon, for the second game in a row, said the Panthers' hot shooting -- they were 7 of 14 from the 3-point line in the first half -- was a product of offensive execution and getting easy shots.

"I thought we had a lot of unselfish play and unselfish guys making an extra pass," Dixon said. "As a program we are known for that. We are always up there among the best teams in the country in assists and we will continue to do so. Our track record speaks to [having unselfish players], and I thought tonight was a great testament for that.

"You look at James, he had 11 assists, and the game was blown open, but he was still out there looking to pass first and not just looking to get his [points]. That is pretty consistent with what we want to be as a program."

Pitt played a very good first half and led, 47-23, at halftime but slipped some after that. The Panthers actually got outscored in the second half, 35-30.

Dixon said that was his fault because he pulled back on some of the more aggressive defensive schemes a little earlier than usual, and by the time he tried to put it back on, Lehigh had made a little bit of a run.

"We want to play every minute good but that is not possible, so we keep striving for it," Dixon said. "I think some guys did some good things in the second half, others played better in the first. But we need to kind of get that second group of players a little better."

Dixon pointed out that the second group -- Josh Newkirk, Jamel Artis, Derrick Randall and Chris Jones -- is comprised of three freshmen and a transfer, so there will be a learning curve. …

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