Pitt puts on overwhelming performance

There could be any number of explanations for No. 5 Pitt's 95-49 thumping of North Florida at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday. Maybe it was the Panthers' a considerable height advantage. It might have been the extended depth of Pitt's. It could have been the fact that North Florida played at Florida State Friday night before traveling to Pittsburgh overnight for a 4 p.m. tip-off.
Whatever the reason, the end result was, much like Pitt's performance, overwhelming.
The box score provides plenty of evidence to support the dominance in Pitt's win over North Florida, a program that is currently in its second year of existence:
Pitt (3-0) had more assists (26) than North Florida had in made baskets (21). Pitt made more three-point shots (9) than North Florida had in free throw attempts (7). And, perhaps most strikingly, Pitt grabbed more offensive rebounds (32) than North Florida's total number of rebounds (28).
"We played hard and we executed well," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said after the game. "I thought we ran our offense pretty well and got good shots, which enabled us to really hit the offensive boards."
The charge on the offensive glass was led by starting power forward Talib Zanna, who grabbed five of his nine boards on the offensive end, and reserves Dante Taylor and J.J. Moore, who each pulled in seven offensive rebounds.
"I'm used to my teammates in practice; I know when they are going to shoot, so I just have to get to the spot," Taylor said. "it's always important for me to be active on the glass and get rebounds, so I just try to be a good rebounder. It's just the act of playing hard."
Taylor finished with seven points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and an assist. Meanwhile, Moore used an explosive second half to finish as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points. After not appearing in the season opener against Rhode Island, Moore has scored 28 points in the last two games.
“Coach told me to just be ready for the next game when we were playing Rhode Island,” Moore said. “So I was ready for the next game. I wanted to show Coach how I play and just play hard in both games.”
Moore scored 10 points in the final 4:11 of the game, and three of his five made shots during that span came after he grabbed an offensive rebound.
“J.J. played well in the second half and got to the offensive glass. When we recruited him, I noticed that he wasn’t he as good an offensive rebounder as he should have been. That was something we emphasized this summer with him and I think he’s really catching on.
Moore and Taylor were the leading forces for Pitt’s bench, as the Panthers’ reserves combined for 47 points. In addition to Moore’s 19 and Taylor’s seven, redshirt sophomore Travon Woodall scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting - 2-of-2 from beyond the arc - and recorded five assists and just one turnover.
“We got a good performance out of a lot of guys and we were able to play a lot of guys,” Dixon said. “These guys are very good players and we have a lot of them.”
“It shows that we’re deep,” senior guard Brad Wanamaker said after the game. “We see it every day in practice; other guys get the best out of guys in practice. J.J. came out today and put some big numbers up and showed what he can do.”
It wasn’t just Pitt’s bench players who scored against North Florida, though. Wanamaker put up 17, which actually dropped his average to 19 points per game. Junior Ashton Gibbs had just 12 points on an off-shooting night (4-13 FG), and Zanna scored a career-high 13.
Notes: Pitt has beat each of its last two opponents by at least 40 points. The last time the Panthers produced back-to-back 40-point victories was 2002…Pitt’s 32 offensive rebounds are the most the Panthers have recorded since Dixon took over as head coach in 2003…redshirt freshman Lamar Patterson played just 10 minutes due to an ankle injury he suffered early in the second half…with Patterson injured and Gibbs and Wanamaker done for the night, walk-on guard Nick Rivers entered the game with 5:43 remaining…Pitt’s next game will be on Thursday, November 18th when the Panthers take on Maryland at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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