The Detroit Titans took their first lead of the game nearly five minutes into the second half after the Pittsburgh Panthers led by double-digits in the first. The run out of the half solicited a timeout from Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon.
It was then Dixon switched his team into a zone defense, which spurred a 22-3 stretch the Panthers used to take control of Friday’s game and coast to a 95-79 victory against Detroit.
“We made them take contested jumpshots,” Dixon said of the zone’s usage. “We didn’t let them get in the paint and that was big. We got some deflections, we got some steals and we didn’t get hurt on the glass out of the zone and that’s obviously the most important thing to us.”
Pitt trailed 53-52 after Detroit’s 12-6 run to start the second half. The Panthers limited the Titans to six field goals and outscored them 43-26 during the game’s final 15 minutes.
“When they went to the zone it got us standing and really took our momentum and our aggressiveness away,” Detroit head coach Ray McCallum said.
Michael Young scored a game-high 21 points to lead Pitt (2-0). Ryan Luther notched his first career double-double with a career-high 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench while Jamel Artis scored 15 points and Sheldon Jeter chipped in 10 in reserve.
“I love having people who can come in and contribute,” Young said. “I really like this group and I think this group is special.”
Anton Wilson paced Detroit (1-1) with 20 points, Jaleel Hogan had 16 and Carlton Brundidge scored 12 for the Titans.
Pitt held Detroit scoreless for the game's first three minutes and took an early 7-0 lead. The Titans scored two baskets in 15 seconds to pull within 7-5.
Pitt led by as many as 13 points in the first half but Detroit, behind Wilson's scoring efforts, used a 16-4 run to cut its deficit to a point with six minutes to play. The Panthers led 46-41 at halftime.
Ryan Luther posted his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds Friday night. Luther, a Pittsburgh native, keyed sequences with crucial offensive rebounds and brought the Petersen Events Center to its feet with multiple dunks, including an alley-oop finish in transition.
“It was fun,” Luther said of his play Friday. “Defense got me going first and then I was able to make plays when I saw them. Setting up screens, that’s mostly how I got open and it was just fun going out there and playing.”
Anton Wilson scored 20 points for the Titans on 6 of 15 shooting. He nearly eclipsed his career-high of 21 points, set in 2013, with 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting in the first half alone. Pitt held the senior swingman scoreless in the second half as Wilson missed all five shot attempts.
“We didn’t really make it an emphasis to stop him,” Young said. “We just made an emphasis to up our team defense, we felt like our team defense wasn’t good.”
Detroit: The Titans lost a road-opener for the 15th-consecutive season with the 95-79 loss Friday. The last time Detroit won its first true road game was a 87-65 victory against Chicago State in 2000.Pittsburgh: The Panthers' 95 points were the most the team scored since a 91-73 victory against Youngstown State on Dec. 14, 2013. Pitt shot nearly 50 percent from the field, making 33 of 67 field goals, and was 41 percent from 3-point range.