KINGSTON, Rhode Island (Ticker) -- Brandin Knight scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half as third-ranked Pittsburgh remained unbeaten with a 87-71 victory over Rhode Island.
Knight helped the Panthers (8-0) open a 47-31 halftime lead and Rhode Island never threatened thereafter.
Ontario Lett added 14 points for Pittsburgh, which is off to its best start since opening the 1987-88 campaign with nine wins.
Dustin Hellenga had 17 points to lead Rhode Island (5-3), which already has beaten California and Providence in its first season in the Ryan Center.
Pitt increased its lead in the all-time series to 5-1. The Panthers last visited Rhode Island on February 4, 1982, when they posted a 66-63 victory.
The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Rams.
Rhode Island used a 10-0 spurt to close within 25-20, but Pittsburgh responded with 17 of the next 22 points, stretching its lead to 16 at halftime.
Donatas Zavackas contributed 13 points and Javon Brown chipped in 11 and 10 rebounds for the Panthers, who led by as many as 24 in the final minutes.
Pittsburgh kept Rhode Island at bay by shooting just under 56 percent from the field (29-of-52). The Panthers also made 10-of-17 3-pointers, led by Knight, who was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Dawan Robinson added 14 points for Rhode Island, which was held to 31 percent shooting (18-of-58). The Rams were pounded on the boards, 45-27.
Pittsburgh was sloppy at times and the damage could have been worse if not for 24 turnovers by the Panthers. Knight and Lett each committed four.