Rock men’s basketball was no Cinderella team this season.
Unlike when Slippery Rock pushed Pittsburgh to a closely contested 12-point loss in 2017, this season’s exhibition game was over before anyone could blink.
Pittsburgh defeated Slippery Rock, 98-47, at the Peterson Events Center Wednesday night behind 17 points from Xavier Johnson and a size disparity that was too tall to overcome.
Missing All-American Micah Till, due to NCAA eligibility issues, the Panthers exploited the huge mismatch in size among post players for Slippery Rock. Pitt outscored SRU in the paint by 26 points throughout the match.
Trailing 51-21 at the halftime break, Slippery Rock was unable to chip away at the lead in the second half.
In his first game with The Rock, senior guard Will Robinson, Jr. led Slippery Rock in scoring with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting and pulled in a team-high seven rebounds. Robinson, a transfer from Division I McNeese State, paired with senior guard Jared Armstrong in the backcourt.
Armstrong chipped in 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting but missed both shots from three-point range, after shooting over 40% from three last season.
Senior guard Donovan Walker, freshman forward Lashon Lindsey and junior forward Deontae Robertson rounded out the top scorers for Slippery Rock. Continuing a night of firsts, each played in their first game for SRU. In Lindsey’s case, it was his first-ever college game, albeit an exhibition match.
Ultimately, Slippery Rock was unable to stop Pitt’s superior height in the paint, but SRU was unable to consistently string together good offensive possessions.
Slippery Rock went 1-of-18 from three-point range against the Panthers and shot just 29% from the field. Pitt, on the other hand, connected on 51% of its shot and 37% of its three-point attempts.
Despite the loss for Slippery Rock, seven new players were able to see the court for the first time as a Rock player in a relatively meaningless game. That included three of the five freshmen.
With the loss, Slippery Rock drops to 0-5 all-time against the Panthers in exhibition games. Dating back to 2005, SRU has gone 1-16 against Division I opponents in exhibitions, with the lone coming against Navy in 2012.
The Rock continues its Division I exhibition tour in New Jersey Saturday with a contest against Rider University. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m.