Youngstown State (7-4) at Pittsburgh (9-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 14, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: STO, NESN, MSG+, ROOT-PIT. Home Record: YSU 4-1, Pitt 6-0. Away Record: YSU 1-3, Pitt 0-0. Neutral Record: YSU 2-0, Pitt 3-0. Conference Record: YSU 0-0, Pitt 0-0. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers will put their unblemished record on the line this Saturday, as they play host to the Youngstown State Penguins in a non-conference clash.
Youngstown State has been largely impressive in the early going this season, running out to a 7-4 start, but it has struggled away from home at just 1-3 in true road games. The Penguins most recently dropped an 88-80 decision at UMKC last Saturday for their third loss in four games.
Meanwhile, Pitt has yet to slip up this season on nine occasions, with its highlight coming in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in late November, beating Texas Tech (76-53) and Stanford (88-67) en route to the championship. The Panthers continued their hot streak on Dec. 6 with an 85-68 home defeat of Loyola Marymount.
This bout marks the eighth all-time meeting between Pitt and YSU, with the Panthers claiming six of the first seven decisions.
The Penguins were hot from the field in their latest contest, as they made good on nearly 54 percent of their total shots, but unfortunately they could not hold UMKC off the scoreboard as they fell on the wrong side of the shootout. Kendrick Perry was outstanding in defeat with a season-high 33 points on 11-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Marcus Keene was useful off the bench with 13 points, while DJ Cole contributed 10 points and three steals. On the season, Youngstown State is usually much more efficient in keeping opponents' point totals in check (71.7 ppg), while it has found little trouble scoring itself with 83.1 ppg on 46.2 percent from the field. Perry is an elite scoring option with 20.7 points per game on a stellar 51.4 percent shooting, and he fills the stat sheet elsewhere too with 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. Kamren Belin (12.9 ppg), Ryan Weber (10.2 ppg) and Bobby Hain (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) have joined Perry in starting all 11 games.
The Panthers were dominant at both ends of the floor in their recent 17-point victory. outshooting Loyola Marymount from the field, 58.3 percent to 38.8 percent, which made up for poor showings from 3-point range (1-of-8) and the foul line (14-of-23). Pacing five players in double figures was Cameron Wright, who netted 14 points on 7-of-9 from the floor. Durand Johnson and Talib Zanna poured in 12 points apiece, Lamar Patterson and Michael Young each scored 10 points, and James Robinson joined the balanced attack with nine points and six assists. Pitt has gotten used to those type of well-rounded efforts, as it boasts an outstanding +21.3 scoring margin while also sitting firmly in the black in both rebounding (+10.7) and turnovers (+3.7). Patterson not only leads the team in scoring with 16.2 ppg, but he's proven to be one of the nation's more multi-faceted swingmen with 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game to go with strong percentages from the field (.490), beyond the arc (.421) and the free-throw line (.773). Zanna (13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is the anchor down low, while Wright (11.8 ppg) and Johnson (10.0 ppg) are also consistent contributors.
With Youngstown State's struggles on the road and Pittsburgh showing virtually no sign of weakness thus far, this one can be chalked up as another triumph for the Panthers as they move to 10-0.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 83, Youngstown State 68
12/14 11:20:14 ET