Pittsburgh led Kent State by only a point with five minutes to play in the first half but the Panthers didn’t panic on offense. They continued to pass, find open shooters and score.
Eventually, the Golden Flashes couldn’t keep up as Pitt finished with 26 assists on 31 made field goals in a 85-76 victory Saturday.
"I like the passing,” Pitt head coach Dixon said. “The shot selection was as good as it gets and the numbers certainly show that.”
The Panthers shot 56 percent from the field and connected on 10-of-16 3-point attempts while posting a season-high in assists. Pitt has recorded at least 20 assists in three of four games this season.
Michael Young led Pitt (4-0) with 23 points while Jamel Artis added 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. James Robinson posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists.
“Mike and the bigs did a really good job passing out of the post,” Robinson said. “On the perimeter and when they helped off we found the open guy.”
Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff lamented the opportunities his team provided for the Panthers to move the ball so well.
“It tells you how good they are,” Senderoff said of Pitt’s assist total. “But from our perspective, it means we’re not putting enough pressure on the basketball that guys are able to move it so easily.”
Xavier Pollard led Kent State (3-2) with 23 points and Jimmy Hall scored 21.
Pitt took an early 15-8 lead but Kent State dominated the offensive glass early to keep the game close. The Golden Flashes shot 40 percent in the first half but scored 11 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds.
“I feel like they wanted it more,” Young said. “Some of our bigs had to help off and a couple long rebounds but for the most part I felt like they had more will than us in the first half.”
Artis keyed a 12-0 Pitt run with a pair of 3-pointers late in the first half that gave the Panthers their first double-digit lead of the game. Pitt shot 61 percent in the first period and led 42-32 at halftime.
Kent State cut Pitt's lead to seven points out of the break but did not come any closer. The Panthers extended their lead to as many as 17 points in the second half.
“We came in here thinking we can win,” Senderoff said. “I’m not happy but we competed very hard and we had a chance there at the end to cut it to four with two minutes to go and our best shooter missed a pretty good look.”
The Golden Flashes moved within seven points of Pitt again with two minutes to play.
Pitt held Kent State to three offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the second half.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Michael Young leads Pitt in scoring at 18 points per game, but his passing out of the post has provided another facet to the Panthers’ offense. He dished out six assists Saturday and his 4.7 assists per game tie with point guard James Robinson for the team lead.
“I could be in the game with four other people that no matter who I pass to, is going to be able to knock down the shot from anywhere on the floor,” Young said. “That makes it a whole lot easier for you to be willing to pass.”
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh moved to 57-1 all-time in November game with a victory in their final game of the month Saturday. Pitt owns a 70-6 overall record in the season's first month under head coach Jamie Dixon.
Pittsburgh hosts Purdue on Tuesday.