Things started off a little slow, but as per Pitt, the Panthers used a big second half to defeat Georgia Tech, 81-74.
It wasn't close. Pitt came pretty close to squandering a 14-point lead with just under six minutes in the second half. But in the end, they were able to hang on for another ACC victory.
The free throw shooting wasn't great early on, but give Pitt credit - they made them when they needed to. The team shot 10-14 over the final five minutes.
The Panthers are always a second half time, but man, I don't know ... just seems like we're seeing a lot of them using the second half this year to really pull away from teams. It's not as though Pitt hasn't been tested, but even in games like the Penn State one or Maryland one where they're challenged, they always seem to pull away in the final 20 minutes.
The encouraging thing about tonight's win is that they did it without a great game from Lamar Patterson. Patterson, the team's leading scorer at nearly 18 points a game, was held scoreless in the first half. Like the rest of the team, he woke up a bit in the second half and finished with 12 points, but he really didn't have a great game. He had seven assists and seven rebounds ... but also seven turnovers. Yikes. Seeing Pitt win a conference road game in their first game without Durand Johnson and a subpar game from Patterson was, at the least, encouraging.
Pitt was able to do that with a couple of big performances from senior Talib Zanna and sophomore James Robinson. Zanna, in particular, was the big star with 22 points and nine boards. And frankly, I'll never understand the desire from some fans for Robinson to sit. He doesn't generally score a ton, but is just a very good player that makes smart plays. I'll also say this - I don't think it's so much that Robinson can't score - rather, he just knows his role. He won't always go off like he did tonight, but I think he's capable of doing a bit more with the team missing DJ.
Cameron Wright also had a fairly quiet 14 points.
The bench without DJ was, as you would expect, a bit down. Derrick Randall led the way there with five of the 11 points they scored. As I said before, I think it'll be a work in progress there in terms of who will get the bulk of the minutes. We could see more Randall, more Jones, and more Artis or Newkirk. But those minutes are up for grabs unless Dixon feels he needs to go particularly big or small at any given time.
Don't take this win for granted. Any conference win is important and a road conference win is that much more so. Pitt doing it in their first game without Durand an with Patterson having an off night makes it even that much more special.
Next up - Syracuse.