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Pittsburgh continues dominance of Syracuse

Jan 5, 2007 - 5:31 AM SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Syracuse loses its home-court advantage when Pittsburgh comes to town.

Sophomore guard Levance Fields scored a career-high 24 points to lead the 10th-ranked Panthers to a 74-66 victory over the Orange in the Big East Conference opener for both schools.

Pittsburgh (13-2, 1-0 Big East) won its fourth straight game at the Carrier Dome, getting 16 second-half points from Fields, who finished 9-of-15 from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

The Orange lost their conference opener for the first time since the 1998-99 season.

"They've got shot makers," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of the Panthers. "I think the one thing they have this year that they didn't have last year is guys that can shoot the ball from the perimeter and I think that was always I thought their weakness.

"That's what makes them different. They're still good defensively, but I just think they have other guys that can shoot, and that makes them to me, so much better than they were last year."

The Panthers used a 13-0 run bridging halftime to move ahead 40-34 and, after the Orange (11-4, 0-1) came back with six straight points to tie it, Fields scored eight points as Pitt built a 55-45 lead.

Syracuse made repeated runs behind the scoring of Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins, pulling within 60-58 with 6:23 remaining, but Antonio Graves and Ronald Ramon buried shots from the arc to help the Panthers put the game away.

"Fields and Ramon hit key open shots, and that is what a good basketball team does, they make open shots," Devendorf said. "Pittsburgh is a good basketball team and I give all the credit in the world to them.

Ramon scored 12 points for the Panthers, who survived their third straight single-digit scoring game from 7-foot center Aaron Gray. The Wooden Award candidate added nine points and has just 19 in his last three contests.

Pittsburgh struggled at the foul line late and finished 9-of-17, but Syracuse failed to capitalize, going scoreless for more than two minutes after Devendorf's layup cut the deficit to 68-64 with 2:21 left.

Devendorf scored 17 and Demetris Nichols and Darryl Watkins had 11 apiece for the Orange, who made just 5-of-19 shots from 3-point range.

"I thought Eric was great," Boeheim said. "He did a great job. He's a key guy. He's got to play well for us, and he had a big game.