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Friday, November 23, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Pittsburgh 85, Delaware 59

By Michael Rothstein

NEW YORK -- Quick thoughts from Pittsburgh’s 85-59 win over Delaware in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Overview: Less than 48 hours from pushing No. 4 Michigan to the brink, Pittsburgh had no problems with Delaware in the NIT consolation game. The Blue Hens dealt with Kansas State’s big men pretty well, the Panthers went early inside and rolled.

Pitt established junior forward Talib Zanna early, going to him during a game-opening 10-0 run. He finished the first half with 10 points and six rebounds, part of an 18-point night. More importantly, the Panthers were able to neutralize Delaware standout center Jamelle Hagins, who had two of his four points in the first half.

Delaware had a successful tourney by making it to New York and it could have been a special one if the Blue Hens had pulled off the upset in an eventual 66-63 loss to Kansas State on Wednesday. Now, they leave the Garden with two losses after the destruction by Pittsburgh.

Turning point: It was over pretty early in the Garden. Pitt jumped out to a 10-0 lead and the Blue Hens never cut the lead into single digits the rest of the night. A small stretch where Pittsburgh freshman center Steven Adams blocked two shots and scored on the other end accentuated the Panthers’ dominance. Adams tied his career high with 13 points Friday.

Key player: Much of what Pitt did Friday against Delaware was set up by senior guard Trey Woodall, who bounced back from a rough performance against Michigan (2-of-7 shooting, three assists and three turnovers) to control the pace from the off-guard spot against the Blue Hens. Woodall had 13 points, five assists and was an efficient 6-of-8 from the field against a good Delaware backcourt consisting of Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt.

Key stat: 21 to 4. Pitt had 21 assists Friday on 33 baskets, somewhat efficient numbers but absolutely massive compared to what Delaware did. The Blue Hens had four assists, the fourth time in five games they had fewer than 10 assists. But the four were a season low. Against a stout defensive team like Pittsburgh, not sharing the ball is going to come at a price. That showed against the Panthers.

Miscellaneous: Delaware was without senior forward Josh Brinkley, who did not dress for the game due to a right ankle injury. Brinkley, a starter, averaged 9 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Blue Hens. ... Zanna had his first double-double of the season and a season-high 11 rebounds against Delaware.

Up next: Pittsburgh takes the weekend off before starting an eight-game stretch where the Panthers won’t leave campus, beginning with Howard on Tuesday. The only non-home game until the end of 2012 is against crosstown opponent Duquesne on Dec. 5. Delaware continues a rough stretch, heading to Temple for a game Sunday.