Pitt improved to 11-1 on the season with a 71-43 win over Delaware State on Wednesday night. It was a much closer game after the first half, but the Panthers overall were more disciplined offensively and defensively, leading to a early second half run.
Talib Zanna tied a career-high with 20 points to lead Pitt. J.J. Moore also finished in double-figures for the Panthers with 15. Steven Adams finished with 10 points, keeping up with his average over the last four games. Travon Woodall and James Robinson each added 8 assists.
"I thought we did a good job of getting better in the second half," head coach Jamie Dixon said. "The eight turnovers (in the first half) are the effect of impatience on offense. I think (Delaware State's) patience on defense made us a little impatient, offensively."
Pitt led by as many as eight points in the first half, and even got off to a good start shooting. Pitt converted 7 of its first 8 field goals (87.5%) and 13 of 19 shots for the first half overall (68.4 %), but Delaware State kept it close.
The Hornets kept it close thanks to solid defensive play, and some good three-point shooting. Pitt turned the ball of 8 times in the first half. Delaware State scored 13 points as a result of those 8 turnovers, including a Tahj Tate steal off Woodall, that Tate converted into a layup as time expired in the first half. Pitt led 31-23 with 2:32 left in the first half. Thanks to a pair of late turnovers, and conversions, Delaware State cut the deficit in half heading into halftime.
The Hornets even led at one point, 15-14, with 8:21 left in the half. A pair of NBA-range three-pointers by Tate kept his team in it early. He led all scorers with 12 points in the first half.
Pitt came out fresh in the second half. One minor adjustment was Robinson face guarding Tate. The early result was an 8-0 run for Pitt, with 6 of those 8 points coming from Zanna. Pitt led 39-27 less than four minutes in to the second half.
According to the players, no special adjustment was made at halftime. Just a better overall defense performance on their part.
"We emphasized more on the defense in the second half, and tried to come out he and pressure the ball a lot," Moore said.
Adams also got involved in the Panthers' inside game, adding a dunk. Delaware State went the first 5:47 of the second half without a field goal, before Tate hit a jumper. Adams answered with his dunk, as Pitt went up 41-29.
Pitt went on a 17-5 run through the first ten minutes of the second half, and never really looked back.
"We were just being more patient with the ball (in the second half)," forward Lamar Patterson said. "We were not that patient (offensively in the first half), forcing a little bit of turnovers. That was our adjustment at halftime; just be patient, and everything just fell through."
After coming out with a pretty good shooting performance in the first half (45.8 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from three-point range), Delaware State was held to 6-19 from the field (31.6%) and 1-7 (14.3%) from three-point range. Within that, Tate was held to 7 points in the second half, after a game-high 12 in the first half.
After 8 turnovers in the first half, Pitt turned it over just once in the second half.
Pitt ended up outscoring the Hornets 40-16 in the second half alone.
"We have a long way to go, a lot of improvements to make," Dixon added. "A lot of new guys that are getting things figured out, but they're looking forward to that."