ATLANTA -- No matter how many players are missing, Georgia Tech must do a better job on the glass.
A dismal rebounding performance cost the short-handed Yellow Jackets a shot at upsetting No. 22 Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Coming off its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season, Georgia Tech led at halftime but couldn't hold off a team that furiously pounded the boards all night long. The Panthers remained perfect in the ACC with an 81-74 victory.
The most glaring column on the stat sheet? Pitt's 38-18 rebounding lead.
"Obviously, we didn't rebound worth anything," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "You've got to hit people, you've got to find the ball. We didn't do that."
Talib Zanna scored 22 points and James Robinson added 16 for the Panthers (16-1, 4-0).
The first 20 minutes were tight, with 11 lead changes and neither team getting up by more than five points. Georgia Tech (10-7, 1-3) closed the period with a flourish, taking advantage of two turnovers to rip off a quick 6-0 run that prompted Dixon to disgustedly call a timeout with 57 seconds remaining.
Robinson hit a jumper to halt the spurt, and Georgia Tech squandered a chance to take some momentum to the locker room when Marcus Georges-Hunt missed a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Yellow Jackets settled for a 35-32 lead.
The second half was totally different. Pittsburgh scored nine straight points to take the lead for good and wore down the Yellow Jackets, who were playing with only eight scholarship players because of injuries and illness. Zanna led the Panthers with nine rebounds, while Patterson and Young chipped in with seven apiece. No one from Georgia Tech had more than five.
"This is the first team I've seen in the ACC that attacks the glass like they did," Georges-Hunt said. "If one guy misses, they're all on the glass."
Pitt won its sixth straight heading into a Saturday showdown with the ACC's other new member, second-ranked and unbeaten Syracuse.
"We didn't even bring up the thought that Syracuse was coming up down the schedule," Robinson said. "We knew we had to come in here and battle."
Giving Pitt a bit of a scare in the final minute, Georgia Tech got as close as 78-74 before the Panthers sealed it at the free throw line. It was their closest victory of the season, the first 15 coming by an average of 17.8 points.
Trae Golden led Georgia Tech with 22 points. Georges-Hunt chipped in with 13 points, while Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey had 12 apiece.
The previous day, Pittsburgh moved into The Associated Press poll for the first time this season. The Panthers sure looked worthy of the ranking through much of the second half, leading by as many as 14 points.
Cameron Wright had 14 points, 12 in the second half. Lamar Patterson scored all 12 of his points after the break, bouncing back after missing all five shots in the first half.
"I'm really happy with how we did it, how we responded," Dixon said. "Rebounding is something we have to do to win on the road. To lead by that kind of margin is good."
Even when something went right for Georgia Tech, it didn't turn out well.
The crowd roared when Wright drove into the lane and had his shot swatted away by Miller. But Patterson chased down the loose ball, charged fearlessly back into the lane, hit the shot and was fouled by Georges-Hunt. The three-point play pushed the Panthers ahead 59-45 with 7:53 remaining.
The Panthers went just 2 of 7 beyond the arc but didn't need any long-range shooting the way they were controlling things on the inside.
Pitt beat Georgia Tech for the first time in school history. The Yellow Jackets came into the game holding a 5-0 lead in the series, but that didn't mean much since the teams had not played since Dec. 28, 1989, when Georgia Tech won 111-92 at the long-since-demolished Omni in downtown Atlanta.