Wilson-Frame's 20 points lead Pitt past VMI, 94-55
By ALAN SAUNDERS
PITTSBURGH (AP) When VMI head coach Dan Earl was breaking down the film of Pittsburgh's first game of the season, he saw a team that liked to get to the basket.
Pitt had knocked off Youngstown State in its opener with an offense that was fueled by guards driving to the rim. Friday night, the Keydets set out to take that away, but it didn't take long for the Panthers to adjust.
With VMI hanging back, Pitt senior Jared Wilson-Frame scored 20 points in his season debut, and the Panthers drained 13 3-pointers in a 94-55 victory.
From the very beginning of the game, Wilson-Frame was a weapon from the outside. After the Keydets (1-1) scored the first basket, Wilson-Frame hit a trio of 3-pointers as Pitt (2-0) raced out on a 19-3 run.
"We talk about making that first hit; punching someone in the mouth first," Wilson-Frame said. "It's really important to us."
He also hit a leaning, long-range 3-pointer just before the first-half buzzer to send the Panthers into the break with an 18-point lead. Wilson-Frame finished shooting 5 of 9 from 3-point range and 6 of 10 overall. It was the fifth time he scored 20 points or more in his Pitt career.
"He hit some deep shots," Earl said. "We were attempting to pack it in a little bit, but know where he was. ... They've become more well-rounded."
Pitt played with a full complement after Wilson-Frame was suspended for the season opener. He worked into the rotation off the bench, with freshman Au'Diese Toney starting for the second straight game. Wilson-Frame played 23 minutes, while Toney played 22.
"Jared is a really important guy for us," Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. "Not just his scoring, but his leadership and his confidence and his versatility."
VMI continued its early season proclivity to look for the long ball. The Keydets attempted 31 3-pointers in its season opener and launched another 25. They've done so despite the absence of starting guards Austin Vereen (wrist) and and Jordan Ratliffe (ACL), who will not return this season.
Wilson-Frame was joined on the outside by freshmen Xavier Johnson, who scored 14 points and had 10 assists for his first career double-double and Toney, who also had 14 to go with a team-high eight rebounds.
"(Johnson) is becoming a pretty good player," Capel said. "He has a strong desire to improve. You love being around people like that. Normally, when you have that, positive things happen."
VMI sophomore Bubba Parham continued his offensive outburst. The reigning Southern Conference freshman of the year scored 16 after putting up 23 in VMI's season opener. Parham will have to shoulder some of the load outside until Vereen can return.
"Other teams look at a stat sheet and go, `OK, that kid can score a little bit and do some things, let's try to take him out,'" Earl said. "That's another sign of growth."
Pitt will continue its five-game homestand against Troy on Monday.
VMI will host Division III Goucher College on Sunday.
Updated November 9, 2018