Brad Wanamker, right, is fouled by Kent State's Justin Greene as he shoots during the first half. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Dec. 12, 2009
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Brad Wanamaker scored 18 points to help Pittsburgh quickly open up a 10-point lead, and the Panthers overcame a sluggish second half to beat Kent State 71-59 on Saturday.
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.
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.
Pittsburgh led 12-2 in the opening five minutes, 38-27 late in the first half and 49-36 in the second half before Kent State (5-4) closed to within six points at 58-52 on two free throws by Chris Singletary with 5:01 remaining.
Jermaine Dixon, playing in only his second game, then scored his first five points on the season on a three-point play and a layup following a scramble for a loose ball to restore Pitt's double-digit lead at 63-52. The Panthers closed the game out on Gibbs' 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining and Gibbs' two free throws with 38 seconds to play.
Dixon, the only returning starter from Pitt's 31-5 team that reached the NCAA round of eight last season, broke his right foot twice during the summer and returned to practice only a week ago. He didn't score in 12 minutes against Indiana, his first game since the Panthers' NCAA loss to Villanova last season.
Justin Greene scored 17 points and Singletary had 13, but Kent State shot 36.5 percent (23 of 63) to Pitt's 53.3 percent (24 of 45) while losing its third in four games.
The Panthers played at home for the first time since their 47-32 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 4, when they led 15-7 at halftime—the lowest-scoring half in college basketball's shot clock era. This time, the Panthers had 17 points by 6:54 into the game and led at the half 38-29.
Kent State and Pitt met in the regular season for the first time in 32 years, although they played twice in the NCAA tournament—in 2002 and 2006—during that time.