When talking about the 2-3 zone last week, I mentioned how disastrous it was when Pitt attempted to use it back in 2011-12. That was nothing compared to what Pitt did to Howard’s attempt at using the 2-3 zone.
Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry blamed it on the Bisons (2-3) packing the paint in a zone defense, allowing Pitt to penetrate and kick out to shooters.
“I told them the bigs can’t beat us, the guards have to beat us — and the guards killed us,” Nickelberry said. “We tried to cut off what we thought was the head of the dragon.”
Howard lacks big guards, so packing inside on a zone was practically begging Pitt to shoot over the zone. And that is what Pitt did. Getting wide-open looks from outside.
A reasonable person would say it wasn’t an unsound strategy upon reviewing Pitt’s 0-11 3-point shooting in the prior game. But even the biggest optimist on Howard’s staff would have to concede that it wasn’t a shooting performance that would be repeated. Instead Pitt decimated Howard from outside. Shooting 6-8 on 3s in the first half.
All part of an incredible first half shooting performance.
Cameron Wright was in disbelief upon hearing Pitt shot 81 percent from the field in the first half against Howard in the Progressive Legends Classic.
“Nobody told us that,” Wright said. “I feel like you guys make those statistics up sometimes. We had a great first half, I guess.”
Try the best in school history.
After setting a school record by missing all 11 3-point attempts against Fresno State, the Panthers broke another by sinking 17 of 21 shots in the first half of an 84-52 victory over Howard on Sunday at Petersen Events Center. The previous mark was 80.8 percent (21 of 26) against George Washington on Jan. 9, 1980.
Most of the time, we’d be thrilled with that kind of shooting percentage from the free throw line. Not all over the court.
Lamar Patterson was exceptionally hot, leading the team with 20 points (7-11 overall, 4-5 on 3s).
Coach Jamie Dixon said that while the Panthers’ shooting in the first half and the rest of the game was solid, he was more impressed with their shot selection and offensive execution.
“I don’t know that it was shooting, but execution, decision-making, passing,” Dixon said. “Sometimes it is guys making shots, but this was running good offense. We had 13 assists at half and that, to me, is the biggest indicator. We were getting layups.
“We were getting some penetration, inside touches and kicking out, and those are the 3-pointers that you make. Last game, we were 0 for 11 from the 3-point line and everybody asked about it. Today, we were 8 for 15 from the 3-point line and of course, nobody asks.”
The Panthers were also good from the free-throw line, shooting 18 for 23 (78 percent).
Really, that was the only concentration in the stat sheet. Ten players played at least 10 minutes. Among those ten, only Randall scored zero points. The other eight players scored from 4 to 11 points. Rebounds were similarly spread out on the team. There was a lot of sharing going on.
Not too much to be said about a blowout like this. I will say that Howard has a keeper in guard James Daniel. Good shooter.
For Pitt, the only negative was Josh Newkirk playing a little too fast. 5 turnovers in only 12 minutes is not going to get you extra minutes with any coach. And that is doubly so with Coach Dixon.
After that, it’s just nit-picking about the team. Pitt did what they were supposed to do against a very obviously overmatched team. They beat them down quickly and never let them get even a glimmer of hope.