Occasionally, Pitt falls behind early to some of their weaker opponents. Against Detroit, it took close to 30 minutes for the Panthers to finally pull away on Friday night for a 95-79 win.
Pitt actually trailed 53-52 with about 15 minutes left until putting together a dominant 22-3 stretch to regain the lead and control of the game.
Forward Michael Young continued to look like the team's best player, leading the way with 21 points and eight boards. But he also had some help tonight from the team's other big gun, Jamel Artis, who had 15 points. It was good to see Artis get back on track with subpar efforts against Gonzaga and St. Joseph's. The Gonzaga game didn't count since it wasn't completed, but he had only one point in the first half of that game. Against St. Joseph's earlier this week, he had only six points on 3-9 shooting with four turnovers. Pitt obviously needs him to have any kind of season and it was nice to see him break out a little.
The Panthers also got an even bigger performance from Ryan Luther, who had a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Jones, Sheldon Jeter, and Jonathan Milligan, who combined for 26 points.
We anticipated players like Jeter and Cameron Johnson breaking out a little this season, but if Luther has games like he did tonight, that will make Pitt even better.
Anton Wilson led Detroit with 20 points. That's notable because they all came in the first half. The team just had a hard time matching Pitt's offensive firepower in the final 20 minutes.
Looking ahead, it's going to be interesting to see what Pitt does with starters Alonzo Nelson-Ododa and Sterling Smith. It's only two games into the season, but so far, they're off to relatively slow starts. Two games in they are averaging only three points a piece and several other guys will continue to push them for playing time - maybe even a spot in the starting lineup.
Overall, this team is pretty deep and I think they'll have too many bodies for most of the early season opponents on the schedule. Eventually a couple guys will see less time, but right now, they're throwing 12 bodies out there. There are a few holes, such as ANO and Smith not doing a ton, and Damon Wilson throwing up a lot of bricks tonight (1-9), but you can make a decent case that any of the 12 could still be receiving quality minutes late in the year.
The competition will get significantly better, but the Panthers' depth is something they didn't have last season.
Another thing I want to see how it plays out is the three-point game. Pitt continues to take long-range shots and attempted 22 of them tonight. I don't know if that's a viable long-term strategy but this is a better shooting team, too. They made nine of those, which, for a 40% clip, is reasonable. They weren't nearly as good in the St. Joseph's game, making only 6-23. I don't know which is closer to the real Panthers, but to hoist up 45 three-pointers in a two-game stretch is pretty uncharacteristic of most Pitt teams we've seen.
Next up is Cornell on Wednesday.