PITTSBURGH – Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall scored 15 points each and Pittsburgh pulled away from Howard in the second half for a 70-46 victory Tuesday night.
Talib Zanna added 12 points and eight rebounds and freshman point guard James Robinson had 11 points and eight assists for the Panthers (6-1), who had little trouble against the overmatched Bison (1-6) after a lethargic first half.
Simuel Frazier led Howard with 12 points and Mike Phillips and Alphonse Leary scored 10 points each for the Bison but could do little over the final 20 minutes after Pitt got serious.
The Panthers, playing in their first game since a respectable third-place finish in the NIT Season Tip-Off last week, were sluggish to start but rode the hot shooting of Patterson — who hit his first four 3-point attempts — beginning a soft spot in their schedule with a convincing win.
The game marked the beginning of a five-week stretch in which the Panthers don’t leave the Pittsburgh city limits, giving coach Jamie Dixon ample time to bring his young team along before its starts the program’s final season in the Big East.
From the looks of the first half, Dixon will need most of that time to get ready.
Despite having just seven scholarship players on the roster, facing a size disadvantage at just about every position and a travel schedule that sent the Washington, D.C., school to Iowa, Kansas and Mexico during the season’s first two weeks, the Bison hung around in the first half.
Looking like the fresher, more engaged team for long stretches, Howard beat Pitt to loose balls, actually outrebounded the Panthers by one (16-15) and stayed patient offensively.
The Panthers, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going outside of Patterson’s hot shooting. Dante Taylor and freshman center Steven Adams were ineffective and rhythm of any variety was difficult to come by.
Pitt still managed a 36-28 lead at the break and finally gained control with an 11-3 run to start the second half fueled by 3-pointers from Woodall and Patterson. Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry called timeout, but by then the Panthers had found their footing on both ends of the floor.
The Bison shot just 31 percent (8 of 26) in the second half as Pitt simply wore Howard down with its depth.