Xavier Johnson scored 27 points and he and the rest of the Pitt men’s basketball team turned things around after an ugly season opener to coast to an 83-74 victory over Drexel at Petersen Events Center on Saturday.
Johnson, Pitt’s junior point guard, had scored just nine points in 32 minutes while Pitt foundered in a season-opening loss to St. Francis on Wednesday. He also turned the ball over seven times in that game.
Against the Dragons, it was a totally different Johnson. He scored 27 and cut his turnovers down from seven to three, while also recording eight assists. He shot 9 of 13 overall and 3 of 7 from 3-point range. Pitt had been just 6 of 24 as a team from beyond the arc against the Red Flash.
Fellow junior Au’Diese Toney continued the strong start to his season, scoring 20 points for the second consecutive game. Toney was 7 of 11 from the field and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
As a team, Pitt shot the ball at a 62% clip against Drexel, going 31 of 50, after shooting 39.7% from the field against St. Francis.
Pitt never trailed in the game and led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Drexel closed to within five just after the midway point of the second half, but a Johnson 3-pointer bumped the lead back up to nine and Drexel never got within two possessions again.
The Panthers (1-1) will continue their non-conference after a 10-day break when they visit Northwestern on Dec. 9 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.