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Pitt vs. IUP: Panthers start slow, finish strong to win 69-54

If you were looking for a 50-point beatdown over a bad team, you were disappointed. Pitt won the game 69-54, but for much of it, struggled to shake IUP.

It never really felt like Pitt would lose - more like we were just waiting for them to wake up. Don't mistake that for a lack of effort. Pitt may not have played their hardest, but you could definitely see a good effort for the most part. The real problem came with hitting open shots as they just couldn't get much to fall. They ended up at 44% from the field, but that was only after a late surge. For most of the game, they hovered around 30%.

Okay, I get it. The big question - how did Steven Adams do? If I had to sum it up, I'd say he had a solid, but unspectacular game. He ended up with six points (3-8 shooting), six rebounds, an assist, a steal, and two blocks. Those aren't bad numbers in 23 minutes of action, but keep in mind ... this was against IUP. I would have preferred to see Adams come out and did a bit more - particularly since he was matched up against a shorter center. But it's really too hard to complain. It was his first taste of game action and he played fairly aggressive.

The other thing to note regarding Adams is that it didn't seem like Pitt was looking for him a lot in the post. Now, before you start blaming the Panthers' guards, that might be a bit off base. For one thing, Adams didn't always have great position. He's just not able to clear space like someone like DeJuan Blair could. And for another, it's clear Adams has work to do offensively.

My concern (if you can even call it that) is that Adams isn't a dominant player on offense. He's a rebounder and defender, but his offensive game simply needs work. I've said it over and over (seriously, check the archives), but Adams isn't the type of player that will come in and score a ton of points. The good news, however, is that he should improve as the season goes along.

The big 'surprise' out of the game was that it was freshman James Robinson, not transfer Trey Zeigler, that got the start. Dixon could simply be trying out some different things, but also noteworthy was that Cam Wright (who struggled badly at times last season) got in ahead of Zeigler and was the first guard off the bench. Again, hard to read too much into this since it's only a preseason game, but take it for what it's worth.

Tray Woodall was probably Pitt's player of the game. He had 16 points (on 50% shooting), seven assists, five steals, and only one turnover. Hard to say he's still battling an injury with numbers like that. And you can also cue the annual hype machine. Pitt's second best player? Probably Dante Taylor. Taylor had nine points, ten rebounds (the only player in double figures), three steals, and was a perfect 4-4 from the field in only 17 minutes of action. J.J. Moore also had a strong game with 14 points.

Another thing noteworthy was that Pitt did something they've talked about for a while - they got out and ran. Part of that was due to Indiana's horrendous 24 turnovers (Pitt had a whopping 28 points off of them, by the way), but Pitt did seem to really push the ball, even after missed shots. According to Khem Birch last year, they talked about wanting to do more of that. We saw a glimpse of it in this game.

The outcome was disappointing and winning by only 15 at home against a Division II team isn't the desired result. But the other thing to keep in mind is that Pitt was clearly doing a lot of experimenting. The rotation will eventually get tighter and the Panthers will improve.

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