Created on Friday, 23 November 2012 21:34 Written by Jasper Wilson / Assistant Sports Editor
NEW YORK — To start its game on Friday afternoon, the Pitt men’s basketball team scored 10 straight points.
And while the rest of the game at Madison Square Garden wasn’t a shutout, the entire opening half seemed like one huge run for the Panthers, who registered a comprehensive victory over Delaware 85-59.
Playing in the consolation game of the N.I.T Season Tip-Off, Pitt would lead by as much as 21 before the midway point and 27 before the final buzzer. The Blue Hens never led over the course of the game.
Five Pitt players finished with double digits — the highest number of players to do so this season.
Pitt (4-1) had more rebounds (13) than it did in its competitive effort against No. 4 Michigan, but even so, it didn’t matter much since it rarely missed.
In the first half, the Panthers shot 65.4 percent from the field, connecting on 17 of 26 attempts.
They would finish with a 58.9 percent mark, making 33 of 56.
Pitt led 41-21 at the break.
One lone bright spot for the Blue Hens (2-3) was the play of Devon Saddler throughout the contest. The junior guard finished with 28 points and kept Pitt’s defense busy throughout the game.
Delaware’s press midway through the second half caused some issues for its opponent, as it managed to help close the deficit to 17 a few times, but the Panthers’ lead never appeared in danger.
In addition to the five who managed double figures, nine of the 10 Pitt players scored. The playing time was distributed as equally, with no player on the floor for more than 28 minutes and each player getting at least 10 minutes.
“I really do feel like we can play 10 guys out there and be really good,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “They know they’re going to get minutes. They know they’re going to play. I think it’s a good feeling [for them]. You can see it by the way we’re passing the ball."
Delaware coach Monté Ross was frank when looking back on the game.
“That was one of the more astounding offensive performances that we’ve ever had against us,” Ross said.
Specifically, the way in which Pitt dominated from the start of the game and then for the rest of the game left Ross searching for answers.
“I don’t know [the reason for the game’s one-sidedness early on],” he said. “Well, I did ask them the question at halftime ‘are you Pitt fans?’ We played like we were watching the game and not participating in the game."
Once Pitt got ahead, the difficulty of responding grew more and more difficult for the Blue Hens, according to senior forward Jamelle Hagins.
“We started off slow,”Hagins said. “[And coming back] just got harder as the game progressed,” Hagins said.
After such a close potentially deflating loss against Michigan, 67-62, two nights before, Pitt’s strong performance pleased Dixon.
“We responded well,” Dixon said. “How you respond says a lot about what this team thinks about themselves and what they can be.”
The Panthers return home and will face Howard Tuesday nigh at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.