Hammons scores 24, No. 11 Purdue beats Pittsburgh 72-59
PITTSBURGH (AP) A.J. Hammons scored a season-high 24 points off the bench and Ryan Cline made four 3-pointers in the second half to lead No. 11 Purdue to a 72-59 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
The Boilermakers improved to 7-0 even with center Isaac Haas limited to just six points and two rebounds due to foul trouble. Purdue survived behind Hammons – the 7-footer grabbed 12 rebounds while making 10 of 15 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Cline drilled three straight 3-pointers during a decisive 11-1 run midway through the second half after Pitt (4-1) erased an early 17-point deficit.
James Robinson led the Panthers with 17 points and Michael Young added 16 points and 12 rebounds but shot a season-low 35 percent and made just 4 of 19 3-pointers.
The Boilermakers came in unbeaten and largely unchallenged, winning each of their first six games by at least 15 points behind a defense that leads the country in field goal percentage.
It appeared another blowout was on the way during an opening flurry in which the Panthers looked overmatched by Purdue's size. Save for a competitive half against No. 13 Gonzaga in a memorable season opener in Okinawa, Japan, that was canceled at the break because of safety concerns after humidity turned the court into a slip and slide, Pitt hadn't faced anyone near the caliber of the Boilermakers and it showed.
Disjointed at times offensively and out of sorts on the other end of the floor, the Panthers allowed Purdue to get any shot it wanted. When A.J. Hammons slammed home an alley-oop feed from Kendall Stephens, the Boilermakers led 24-7.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon then switched to a zone in hopes of providing some help in the lane and it paid immediate dividends. The Panthers ended the half with a 19-5 spurt helped by early foul trouble on Haas and consecutive 3-pointers from Jamel Artis and Robinson.
Pitt's momentum carried over into the second half. A jumper by Robinson gave the Panthers their only at 44-43 with 12:20 to go. Cline responded with a 3-pointer to put Purdue back in front to stay. When a 3-pointer by Sheldon Jeter drew Pitt within 50-49, Cline briefly took over. His final 3 made it 61-50 with 5:28 to play.
Chris Jones cut Purdue's lead to 65-69 with 3:00 left but the Panthers would get no closer.
Purdue has won seven straight games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the second-longest streak in the series. Duke won 10 straight from 1999-2008. … The Panthers lost for just the fifth time in 127 nonconference games at the Petersen Events Center.
Purdue begins a four-game homestand against New Mexico on Saturday.
Pitt faces crosstown rival Duquesne in the annual City Game at Consol Energy Center on Friday.