Pittsburgh's quest to return to the NCAA tournament, and perhaps go even further, started Monday night with an 83-75 win against Rhode Island in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
Brad Wanamaker scored 24 points and Ashton Gibbs added 22 more. Wanamaker also led Pitt with eight assists, while Talib Zanna had a game-high 11 rebounds. Pitt out-rebounded the Rams 40-19. Overall, the Panthers shot 45 percent from the field, including 20 percent of their three-point attempts.
Delroy James had 20 points for Rhode Island; Akeem Richmond had 16. The Rams converted about 44 percent of their three-point shots, including James' 5-of-10 night, but were just 10-of-28 from elsewhere on the field.
Rhode Island led as late as four minutes into the second half, and the game was tied eight minutes in, but the Panthers went on a 11-5 run to take the lead for good.
Our Pittsburgh blog, Cardiac Hill, wasn't exactly blown away by the performance.
This was Pitt's opener and they clearly looked a bit rusty. They had 16 turnovers, shot only 45% from the field, and, more importantly missed a ton of layups. The play-by-play chart says that Pitt missed 17. No, that's not a typo -- 17 layups MISSED. I'm not putting a lot of stock in that as Pitt was clearly a bit rusty, but that's just ridiculous. ...
This was a test that Pitt probably didn't need this early in the season, but they came out on top and eventually made enough plays to win.
Pitt's next game is Wednesday against Illinois-Chicago, and Rhode Island plays Brown on Nov. 16.