Pittsburgh already owns the nation's best rebounding differential, so when it's shooting at a high percentage -- as it was in its latest game -- it's nearly impossible to beat.
The third-ranked Panthers don't figure to have too much trouble in either area Wednesday night, when they host Delaware State looking to open with a 10th consecutive win for the seventh time in coach Jamie Dixon's eight seasons.Pitt is outrebounding opponents by 16.0 per game, an edge that was rather evident last Wednesday against Duquesne. The Panthers turned the ball over 19 times and missed 15 of 20 3-point attempts, but a 56-35 rebounding edge helped them walk away with an 80-66 win over their city rivals.The rebounding disparity wasn't as noticeable Saturday against Rider -- 35-25 in favor of Pitt -- but Dixon's team was much sharper elsewhere. The Panthers shot 53.4 percent from the field, committed a season-low six turnovers and tied a season high with 27 assists in an 87-68 victory that extended their non-conference home winning streak to 53."This week we focused on offense and turnovers, which were pretty high for our standards," Dixon said. "It was good to see that we were able to cut those down. ... We still scored 87 points and had more patience, less turnovers, we had better shots and better scoring opportunities."Since Dixon arrived in 2003-04, Pitt is 73-2 when it shoots better than 50 percent. Thirty-seven of those wins have come during the non-conference slate from November through early January.Delaware State (4-3) seems unlikely to keep Pitt from another 10-0 start, but coach Greg Jackson has brought the school to the Petersen Events Center before. The Hornets held their own underneath -- getting outrebounded 34-29 -- but shot 35.2 percent in a 67-50 loss Nov. 14, 2006.Jackson's latest team will at least enter one of college basketball's toughest venues for an opponent with some momentum thanks to Casey Walker. The freshman guard hit six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points in a 64-53 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday, then hit six more 3s and totaled 25 points in a 75-56 victory at Maine on Monday.Making sure Walker doesn't get as many good looks Wednesday will fall -- at least in part -- on guard Brad Wanamaker.The senior averaged 14.3 points and 5.6 assists during his first seven games, but then totaled 10 points and seven assists during wins over Pennsylvania and Duquesne. He also had seven turnovers against the Dukes in 17 minutes.Wanamaker got back on track against Rider, finishing with 16 points, a season-high 11 assists, no turnovers and plenty of praise from Broncs coach Tom Dempsey."He's ice out there," Dempsey said. "He doesn't make a mistake, he doesn't take a bad shot."