Brad Wanamaker scored 24 points, Ashton Gibbs had 22, and No. 5 Pittsburgh survived an upset scare in the nation’s first Division 1 game of the season, rallying from 8 points down to beat Rhode Island, 83-75, last night in Pittsburgh.
Pitt ended a sluggish first half in the 2K Sports Classic opener by scoring 9 consecutive points over the final 1:21 after Rhode Island went ahead, 36-28. The Panthers then wore down Rhode Island with their size, defense, and the experienced play of the backcourt of Gibbs and Wanamaker to offset the Rams’ 14 3-pointers.
Delroy James scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half for Rhode Island, which trailed, 76-74, with 1:41 to play before Pitt finished it off by making 7 of 8 free throws.
Pitt won its 14th consecutive season opener, eight under coach Jamie Dixon, and its 48th straight at home against a nonconference opponent.
Akeem Richmond scored 16 points and Nikola Malesevic had 13 for Rhode Island, which lost despite making 14 of 31 from 3-point range to Pitt’s 3 of 16. The Rams lost their 23d straight to a ranked opponent.
Pitt knew Rhode Island wouldn’t be the usual rollover opponent that many ranked teams play in their opener, and the Rams — 26-10 last season while reaching the NIT semifinals — weren’t while leading most of the first half.
Indianapolis 79, Tennessee 64 — Darius Adams scored 27 points and the Division 2 Greyhounds upset the 23d-ranked Volunteers in an exhibition game in Knoxville. Indianapolis coach Stan Gouard, who played for Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl at Southern Illinois, had his players use Pearl’s trademark style of full-court pressure to force 25 turnovers. The Greyhounds also hit 33 of 40 free throws.
Illinois 79, UC-Irvine 65 — Reserve Brandon Paul scored all of his 18 points on 3-pointers to lead the No. 13
Texas 83, Navy 52 — Jordan Hamilton had 26 points and 10 rebounds and the Longhorns opened the season with a home victory in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic. Playing with four new starters, Texas used a 23-9 run early in the second half to easily pull away from the poor-shooting Midshipmen.