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Robinson leads Pitt over Syracuse in Big East clash

Jan 18, 2011 - 7:20 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Nasir Robinson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead fifth-ranked Pittsburgh past No. 3 Syracuse, 74-66, in a battle for the top spot in the Big East at the Petersen Events Center.

Brad Wanamaker supplied 15 points, six assists and five boards, while Gilbert Brown produced 12 points, seven caroms and four assists for the Panthers (18-1, 6-0 Big East), who have won their first six games in Big East play for the first time in school history.

Ashton Gibbs scored 11 points and Gary McGhee ripped down a game-high 13 boards for the Panthers, who are 13-0 at home this season and have won 20 straight on home hardwood.

Freshman C.J. Fair came off the bench to score 16 points and grab nine rebounds, while Rick Jackson chipped in with 10 points and 11 boards for the Orange (18-1, 5-1), who missed matching the 1999-2000 squad for the best start in school history.

Syracuse played without its leading scorer Kris Joseph, who suffered a head injury in Saturday's win over Cincinnati and did not make the trip.

James Southerland drained a triple to create the lone tie of the game at 41 before Travon Woodall responded with one of his own to give the hosts the lead for good with 13 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Panthers maintained between a two- and nine-point advantage over a five minute stretch before an 8-0 surge pushed the lead to 65-53 with five minutes to play.

Brandon Triche buried a three from the left wing that sliced the deficit to 67-62 with 67 seconds to play, but Wanamaker hit a layup at the other end and 1-of-2 at the line after a flagrant foul to quickly push the lead back to eight with a minute to play.

Pitt then made four free throws over the final 60 seconds to sew up the win.

"The second half I thought defensively, we just didn't do a good job," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We let too much penetration get in there and they took advantage of that. Pitt is a tremendous basketball team. To me, it is probably one of the best, if not the best teams we've played."

The Panthers scored the game's first 19 points before Scoop Jardine's three- pointer with 11:59 to go in the half finally got the visitors on the board.

That bucket ignited a 17-0 Syracuse surge that trimmed the deficit to a pair with six minutes left before the break.

"It was the first time in my career that we got off to a start like that," said Wanamaker. "It was great because we had the fans into it. Our adrenaline was pumping. Syracuse is a great team, they made their run. That's what basketball is, a game of runs. We made our first run, they made theirs, but we stuck it out."

Brown hit a trifecta to end a 6 1/2 minute drought for the Panthers and started a 7-0 surge that made it a 26-17 game two minutes later.

A Gibbs three-pointer with four ticks remaining gave the hosts a 31-27 cushion at the break.

Game Notes

Pitt is 9-0 at "the Pete" against Top-Five ranked teams and 14-3 in games in which both teams are ranked...The Panthers have won five straight and 13 of the last 16 meetings with Syracuse...Robinson made 8-of-12 from the floor for Pitt, which shot 48 percent...The Panthers outrebounded Syracuse, 44-30, and outscored the visitors 14-6 in fast break points...Jardine scored 12 points but made only 4-of-13 shots...All of his makes were from beyond the arc, from where the Orange connected on 8-of-20...Southerland finished with eight points in place of Joseph...Dion Waiters added nine points and six boards in defeat.