The Pittsburgh Panthers weren't supposed to face a real test for another nine days, when they head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational and could face teams including Arizona, BYU and San Diego State.
But nearly 13 minutes into their second game of the season, the Panthers found themselves trailing the Samford by five points.
Pitt finished the half on an 18-3 run and held onto the lead in the second for a 63-56 victory Sunday at the Petersen Events Center.
Sophomore forward Michael Young led the Panthers with a career-high 20 points, making 10 of 12 field goals and pulling in five rebounds. Young scored 14 points in the second half to help Pitt secure its victory.
The Panthers couldn't pull away and never led by more than nine points. Tyler Hood kept Samford in the game with 21 points and made five 3-pointers while capitalizing on soft spots in Pitt's 2-3 zone.
Samford, chosen to finish last in the Southern Conference, hung with the Panthers and outscored Pitt in the second half by a 33-32 margin. The Bulldogs lost their season-opener by 40 points at Purdue Friday night.
Pitt defeated Niagara by 33 Friday night but was unable to take control of the game.
Hood made a 3-pointer early in the second half to pull the Bulldogs within three points but they never got any closer.
Jamel Artis added 12 points for Pitt, with 10 coming in the first half.
Young capped his performance with a key block while there was under 10 seconds to play in the game and Pitt clinging to a five point lead.
After handing out 20 assists on 30 made field goals Friday, the Panthers again shared the ball with 20 assists on 24 baskets. James Robinson dished out a game-high eight assists while Josh Newkirk had seven off the bench.
Michael Bradley scored 10 points for Samford and posted a game-high eight rebounds. Samford out-rebounded Pitt 33-31.
PITTSBURGH: Young averaged 22 points a game in the preseason but only had five points in the season opener.
SAMFORD: Hood made 6 of 10 3-point attempts.
Pittsburgh heads to Hawaii to play the Rainbow Warriors Wednesday.
Samford returns to Alabama for its home-opener against Austin Peay Wednesday.