PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh shot out to an early lead Saturday against Wake Forest and didn't look back as they notched their third straight Atlantic Coast Conference win by a score of 80-65.
Lamar Patterson led all scorers with 27 points, his sixth 20-point game of the season. Patterson shot 10 of 17 from the field, dished out a game-high six assists, grabbed five rebounds in 32 efficient minutes as he continues to work on a standout senior year.
''I know pretty much the ins and outs of the game,'' Patterson said. ''Also, what coach Dixon wants from us.''
Talib Zanna anchored Pitt's frontcourt presence as he scored 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to earn his fifth double-double of the season alongside four blocks. Durand Johnson chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Behind their seniors, the Panthers won the way they like - out-rebounding Wake Forest 38-28, recording 19 assists on 26 shots and holding the Demon Deacons to below 40 percent shooting from the field.
''Today Pitt was tougher on the boards than we were,'' Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ''They got as many offensive rebounds as we had defensive rebounds.''
Pitt (15-1, 3-0 ACC) began the contest on a 8-1 run keyed by a pair of baskets from point guard James Robinson, and led by 22 points in the second half. Following a slow start in Raleigh, N.C., where the Panthers fell behind 17-2 to NC State a tight start against Maryland, a solid start wasn't so much an emphasis Saturday as simply playing 40 quality minutes.
''Just making sure we play as hard as we can,'' Robinson said about starting the game. ''Work them from the jump ball to the end of the game.
Wake Forest (11-5, 1-2) entered Saturday's game with four players averaging 10 points per game or more, but only Devin Thomas found his game with 17 points and nine boards before he fouled out in the second half.
When Thomas was on the floor, he scored seemingly at will on Zanna who admitted he strayed from the defensive game plan.
''I should've just done it by the scouting report and do the right thing,'' Zanna said. ''I was maybe doing my own thing.''
But the Panthers ultimately succeeded in using Thomas' affinity for contact against him as he watched the game's end from the bench after he was called for his fifth personal with 5:16 left to play.
Codi Miller-McIntyre was held below his average of nearly 16 points per game as he scored an inefficient 10 points that required 11 shots. Aside from Thomas, who made nearly half of his team's field goals, the rest of the Demon Deacons shot 30 percent from the field.
''We don't have a weak link on our perimeter defense,'' Dixon said. ''I don't know that we've had three, across the board, good defenders starting for us.''
While Pitt's average margin of victory in its first season as an ACC member is now nearly 16 points per game, the Panthers remain outside of the rankings and national discussions.
''I think we aren't getting the respect we should,'' Zanna said. ''We've just got to keep playing hard and keep winning.''