- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon watched his team melt down in the final moments in a loss at No. 2 Syracuse over the weekend and wondered how the Panthers, who he insists are still finding themselves, would respond.

“Is there going to be carryover? Are you going to be down?” Dixon asked. “I was concerned about that. But they looked more angry than disappointed.”

Dominant too.

Talib Zanna scored 22 points on near flawless shooting and the 20th-ranked Panthers drilled Clemson 76-43 on Tuesday night.

Zanna connected on 9 of 10 shots, most of them dunks or layups, as the Panthers (17-2, 5-1 ACC) bounced back from the potentially crushing loss to the Orange by overwhelming the Tigers.

“We came out to prove something,” Dixon said.

At both ends of the court.

Pitt held Clemson to 32 percent shooting (16 of 50) and displayed remarkable willingness to share the ball on offense. The Panthers had 24 assists on 27 field goals.

“I think from the start of the game we just tried to play our style of game, play as hard as we can, execute as best we could,” Pitt guard James Robinson said. “We’re a very unselfish team. When somebody gives up their shot to let somebody else make a play, it usually comes back around.”

It came around often on a night the Panthers posted their fourth-highest margin of victory in conference play in school history.

Lamar Patterson scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds to become the 19th Pitt player to top 1,000 points and 500 rebounds and often served as the catalyst during a first half in which the Panthers raced to quick lead and never let the Tigers (13-5, 4-2) in it.

“They make plays out of nowhere every once in awhile,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “The defense isn’t as bad as it looks, they’re just so good passing the ball. It’s demoralizing to play defense for 30 seconds and give up a layup.”

K.J. McDaniels battled early foul trouble and finished with 11 points for the Tigers but Clemson appeared overmatched from the opening tip. Pitt needed less than 10 minutes to build a double-digit lead and cruised while handing the Tigers their worst loss of the season.

Clemson came in one of the bigger surprises in the new-look ACC. Wins over Duke, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest had the Tigers off to their best conference start since 1997. The game against the Panthers marked the beginning of a difficult stretch in which Clemson plays five of six on the road, including visits to North Carolina and Syracuse.

As promising as things have looked at times, Brownell admitted there’s still plenty of work to be done.

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