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Pitt makes statement with win over previously unbeaten UConn

Dec 28, 2010 - 5:10 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Ashton Gibbs posted 21 points and seven assists, and No. 6 Pittsburgh made an early statement in the Big East with a convincing 78-63 win over fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten Connecticut.

Brad Wanamaker chipped in 14 points, while Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson each recorded double-doubles for the Panthers (13-1, 1-0 Big East), who held the Huskies to 32-percent shooting en route to a third straight win.

McGhee ended with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Robinson had 11 and 10 for Pitt in the victory.

Kemba Walker logged 31 points but shot just 10-of-27 from the field for UConn (10-1, 0-1), which lost in its first true road test of the season.

"I thought we executed very well on both ends of the floor, and I really liked that we took good shots," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "Our offense was good, but I'm particularly pleased with our defense because getting better there was something that we've been stressing in practice the last couple of weeks."

Despite fouling themselves into the penalty less than seven minutes into the second half, the Panthers went up by 15 near the midway point when Travon Woodall drained a three-pointer for a 57-42 cushion.

The margin was cut into single digits, 62-53, when Walker hit a three-pointer with 6:05 to play. McGhee then missed two free throws and Walker's quick layup made it a seven-point game.

Wanamaker halted Walker's personal 8-0 run with a bucket, and both teams missed easy putbacks during their next touches.

Walker had a wide open three fall off the mark with under four minutes to go, and Gibbs followed with a back-breaking trifecta for a 67-55 advantage.

The closest the Huskies got in the final three minutes was nine.

"Kemba [Walker] saw that he had to pick up too much of the burden. I would have preferred that he gave the ball up," UConn head coach Jim Calhoun said. "Team wise we need to be tougher. We need to be mentally tougher. That's the whole game. The game is about willing."

Gilbert Brown's emphatic slam off an alley-oop feed from Wanamaker highlighted an 8-2 run that gave Pitt a 16-7 lead five minutes into the game.

The hosts played front-runner through the rest of the half, taking a 37-28 edge into the intermission.

Walker was 3-for-12 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but the Huskies used 11 second-chance points to stay within striking distance.

Game Notes

The Panthers, winners of 17 in a row at home, improved to 8-0 vs. top-five teams at Petersen Events Center...UConn owns a narrow 30-28 series advantage, but the Panthers have won four straight...Alex Oriakhi ended with just eight points and one rebound for the Huskies, significantly below his 11.3-point, 9.9-rebound average coming in...Walker has scored 30-or-more points in five games this season...The Panthers shot 52.1 percent from the floor...Connecticut had more offensive rebounds (20) than defensive boards (16).