Pitt, 83, Coker College 40

Tiny Coker College, a Division II school with a 695-student enrollment in Hartsville, S.C., was no match for the Pitt men's basketball team and dropped an 83-40 decision to the Panthers in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.

Pittsburgh, which won both preseason games, led 41-6 at halftime and basically never looked back. The Cobras opening points came on two free throws, and they didn't record an initial field goal until less than four minutes remained in the first half.

"I think we just focused more on executing our offense, and this game helped us prepare for the season with that aspect of our game,'' Pitt redshirt freshman point guard Travon Woodall said.

"I think we just focused on executing our offensive and defensive principles and making sure that we're all in the right spots. (But) we're not really looking at the score. When they got the ball, we wanted to make sure that we got back.''

Woodall shot better than ever against Coker, as he led Pitt with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 shots from 3-point range. He added four defensive rebounds, three assists and one steal against just one turnover in 22 minutes primarily as the Panthers' point guard.

Woodall was joined in the starting lineup by sophomore Ashton Gibbs and senior Chase Adams, as Pitt coach Jamie Dixon went with three guards. The forwards were junior Gary McGhee and sophomore Nasir Robinson. McGee tallied 13 points in 17 points on 4-for-5 shooting, including 3 of 5 free throws, but he had just two defensive rebounds and one blocked shot.

"The score matters to win the game,'' McGee said, "but after we got up we just wanted to play hard and improve every play offensively and defensively. ... I trimmed down in the offseason, and I think it paid off a lot.

"I can get up and down the court a lot better, move around and get to the offensive glass. (And) I can play defense a lot better.''

The only player who didn't have that great of a game was Gibbs. In 28 minutes, a team-high, he made just 2 of 9 shots, including a 1-for-7 performance from 3-point range, and finished with five points. He did have six assists and played decent defense, so it wasn't a total washout.

Robinson, the other starter, played just six first-half minutes and made his only basket but missed two free throws. He also missed the rest of the game due to a dislocated finger on his left hand. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said that Robinson should be OK for the Panthers' regular-season opener against Wofford Friday night at 8:10 at the Petersen Events Center.

"He probably could have gone back in if necessary, and he's been doing a good job for us,'' Dixon said. "We're a little thin, now, with Gilbert out (academic suspension for 11 games) and Jermaine Dixon (foot), but he's getting another X-ray (Monday). ... So, we'll see where he's at, but he'll be back soon.''

Adams, junior Bradley Wanamaker and freshman Dante Taylor tallied eight points each, while redshirt frosh Dwight Miller had eight rebounds. Everyone scored except freshman forward J.J. Richardson, who played just nine minutes. Still, the Panthers held a 32-2 advantage before Coker hit a field goal.

"We came out intense, defensively, aggressive,'' Dixon said. "And we just were at the right spot at the right time, and that was evident early. (But) I give credit to Coker for battling. We got everybody a lot of minutes. Our guards played a little more than I would have liked them to play.

"But we only have three guards now. Still, it was a good effort for us and a really good sign of improvement, and that's really going to determine how good this team can be. I think they really bought into this idea of improving every time out, and they've shown that from practice to the games.''

Woodall hit a few early shots to help Pitt take control early against Coker, and Taylor also had a pair of early hoops to put

"I saw a lot of openings today, but I wish I could have had a lot more assists,'' Woodall said. "I had 21 (points), and ... we came out with the win. I feel real confident going into the season. I worked real hard in the summer.

"Even though Levance (Fields) is overseas, I've been talking with him a lot, and Brandin (Knight) has been mentoring me, too. So, hopefully, all this will pay off for the season, but I've worked real hard to get to this point.

"(And) I feel like this team is improving every day,'' Woodall added. "As a collective unit, we're doing a great job staying together and helping each other. So, every day, we strive to become the best team that we can possibly be.''

McGhee agreed that the Panthers would be ready for Wofford Friday night.

"I'm feeling real confident how much we improved Sunday to Sunday, from the first exhibition game to this one,'' McGhee said. "We executed well on offense and defense, and I'm feeling real confident five days from our first game Friday.

"The freshmen, the younger guys up front, they're really coming along and developing real fast. They're working hard and getting better every day.''

After the opener, Pitt takes part in the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic with games against Binghamton (Nov. 17) and Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 19) at the Pete. Then, it's on to Kansas City to face Wichita State Nov. 23 with the consolation or title game against either Iowa or Texas Nov. 24.

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