Pitt 75, Slippery Rock 64

Freshman Dante Taylor scored a game-high 27 points, as Pitt beat Division II Slippery Rock 75-64 in an exhibition men's basketball game Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.

The victory marked 21st straight in exhibition games for Pittsburgh, while Head Coach Jamie Dixon improved to a perfect 13-0 in those.

"I thought the biggest surprise was rebounding,'' Dixon said. "I couldn't believe that we were being out-rebounded at the half. That was something that we really stressed at halftime. We finished the game out-rebounding them by 13, so I thought it was good that we responded.

"There were a couple of plays that we didn't finish, just some careless passes on transition plays where we didn't do what we needed to do to pull away. I think the main thing is that we will be a better team in our next game. This was a good game to see where we are at.

"We have a lot of guys playing where it was their first time out there,'' Dixon added. "It's all about improvement. I thought that Slippery Rock played hard. They're a difficult team to play, just with some of the switches that they do. They're very experienced and very well-coached. I think Coach Reynolds has done a great job with them.''

Dante Taylor scored 12 of Pitt's 17 points in a 17-7 run over the first half's final 6:23. He gave Pitt its first lead, 25-24, on a dunk with 6:23 left in the first half. Taylor then scored on a layup off an assist from Nasir Robinson.

Following Dwight Miller's 3-pointer, Taylor converted two free throws, converted back-to-back layups and threw down a dunk off a nice pass from Travon Woodall. Nasir Robinson's layup off a Woodall pass with 33 seconds to go gave the Panthers a 40-31 halftime lead.

Taylor finished the game with 27 points, including 16 in the first half off the bench, on 9-for-11 shooting. He also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and converted nine of his 11 free throw attempts.

"It was good to come off the bench because I was able to see what was going on,'' Taylor said. "I came in and was able to play with the tempo of the game. I just went out and played hard and did the positive things so I could stay in the game. We're a bigger team than they are, so I wanted to go in and be athletic and use my size in order to help out my team.''

Some believe that Taylor eventually will be a starter, but the player noted that whatever the team needs has to be the primary concern.

"I don't think it matters when I play or who starts,'' Taylor said. "What matters is that we're a team. I bring a lot of energy to the floor and in practice. It's not all up to me to get Pitt the win, it's all of us. And I'll do what I can in order to help us win.''

Robinson concluded the day with 11 points and five rebounds. Gary McGhee finished with nine points, five rebounds and three blocks, Bradley Wanamaker added eight points, four assists and seven rebounds, while Travon Woodall dished out a game-high seven assists.

"Dante brings a lot of energy to the floor,'' Robinson said. "He came in today and got some key rebounds and blocked some shots. He's good at running the floor from his position. (And) I try to help the new guys at practice by talking to them. I stay focused so I can come into the game and do my job. We're still trying to feel out some things, and there still are a few guys that are learning.''

Slippery Rock grabbed an early eight point lead, 23-15, after converting four consecutive 3-pointers. SRU hit 15 from 3-point range in the game including eight in the first half. On the day, SRU hit 15 of 46 treys.

Slippery Rock was led by Jabril Bailey's 18 points (6-15 on 3-pointers) and Maurice Douglas' 14. Pitt out-rebounded Slippery Rock 30-17 in the second half. The Panthers also held SRU to 29.3 percent shooting (22-for-75) in the contest. Pitt built an 18-point lead (61-43) midway through the second half.

"Our goal is always to keep our opponent shooting below 40 percent,'' Dixon said. "We held them to 29 percent, so that was good. They took some quick shots, some quick 3s that our guys were a little surprised by. This was a different game than we would normally play at this stage of the season.

"I thought that our big guys played better. They were much-improved from Tuesday night. We saw that happening in practice this week, and then we saw it in the game today. I think between the three we got good production. Dante shot it well. He's been doing a better job posting. It's just an adjustment.''

Pitt's five starters included Woodall and Ashton Gibbs at the guard positions, Wanamaker and Robinson at forward and Gary McGhee at center.

"We'll see how practice goes this week,'' Dixon said. "The exhibition game starting five does not mean that it's locked in.''

Pitt plays its second exhibition game against Coker College, S.C. Sunday at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is 4 p.m. Coker head coach Dan Schmotzer served on the coaching staff at TCU when Pitt coach Jamie Dixon played there.

Pitt's first regular season game is Friday, Nov. 13 against Wofford at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Notes: Pitt improved to 2-0 all-time in exhibition games against Slippery Rock. The Panthers also defeated Slippery Rock 100-42 November 5, 2005. Prior to its exhibition game in 2005, Pitt had never played Slippery Rock in a men's basketball game. ... The last time the Panthers lost an exhibition game was on November 10, 1998 against Marathon Oil, a 92-90 loss. ... Pitt improved to a perfect 11-0 in exhibition games since the NCAA cleared other NCAA Division institutions for competition. Pitt has now defeated LaRoche, Seton Hill, Indiana, Pa. (2-0), Carnegie Mellon (2-0), Gannon, Slippery Rock (2-0), Pitt-Johnstown and California, Pa. since 2004.

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