Bradley Wanamaker scored 18 points and helped stake Pittsburgh to an early 10-point lead, and the Panthers overcame a poor shooting game leading scorer sophomore Ashton Gibbs. Pitt shot nearly 58 percent in the second half and 53.3 percent for the game with four players in double figures.
"It was good that we came out and played early,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We did a good job of moving the ball and taking open shots. This team has showed a lot of improvement, but we are not where we need to be.
"We've got a lot of work to do. We're a little banged up heading into final exams, but we'll take a few days off. (But) I'm really looking forward to next week because this team is going to continue to get better.''
Wanamaker made all three of his 3-point attempts as Pitt (8-2) withstood a 10-point game by Ashton Gibbs, who came in averaging 17 points before being held to three points in the first 33 minutes. Gibbs scored 48 points in his previous two games - 25 in a 74-64 loss to Indiana on Tuesday and 23 against New Hampshire - only to miss seven of his first eight shots.
Dixon noted that the staff has told Wanamaker to take more shots, especially when he's open, but the player did not believe it was from a lack of confidence.
"I've been coming into the gym and working on my shots,'' Wanamaker said. "Today, I took advantage of taking more open shots. I saw on film that I was passing up open shots before, but ... I just wasn't facing the shot.''
Despite Gibbs' slow start, the Panthers won a school-record 44th consecutive home game against a non-conference opponent and their 27th in a row at the Petersen Events Center. Justin Greene scored 17 for Kent State (5-4), which was out-rebounded 38-30.
Pitt only led 31-27 with 5:06 remaining in the first half, but eventually took a 38-29 advantage into the locker room at the intermission and steadily pulled away to a double-digit advantage in the second half.
Sophomore Nasir Robinson, who bounced back from a couple rough games with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, hit a short jumper and Wanamaker with a 3-pointer and two free throws closed out the first half scoring for Pitt. Gibbs and redshirt freshman point guard Travon Woodall tallied 10 points each.
Senior guard Chase Adams came back from a groin injury to hit two 3-pointers, while senior guard Jermaine Dixon played 14 minutes in his second game back from a foot injury and had five points with a short jumper to go with a driving layup and free throw. Junior center Gary McGhee led with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
There also were two buzzer-beaters by the Panthers that really took a little luster off the Golden Flashes.
"Yeah, I think those were the two biggest plays in the game, to be honest with you,'' second-year Kent State coach Geno Ford said. "We played very good defense during the possession up to that point and then were foolish to over-help both times, and you just can't do that.''
The one negative was that Pitt committed too many turnovers, 19, again.
The Panthers have a week off until facing Mount St. Mary's Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt 71, Kent State 59
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