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Balanced effort carries Pittsburgh to rout

Jan 7, 2007 - 9:30 PM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Levance Fields is starting to display some of the same leadership skills that Carl Krauser had.

Fields scored 11 points to highlight a balanced scoring effort as No. 10 Pittsburgh rolled to a 69-48 victory over South Florida in a Big East Conference matchup.

Ronald Ramon, Antonio Graves and Mike Cook added nine points apiece for the Panthers (14-2, 2-0 Big East), who improved to 10-0 at home.

Taking over the point guard duties from the departed Krauser, Fields continued to lead with his scoring. The sophomore recorded a career-high 24 points in a 74-66 victory at Syracuse on Thursday - Pittsburgh's conference opener.

Fields, who also handed out five assists, shot 4-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers.

"Levance shot well at the 3-point line," Ramon said. "That's something we have this year that we've been struggling with the past few years - other guys stepping up with the 3-point shot."

Aaron Gray, Sam Young and Keith Benjamin chipped in seven points each for the Panthers, who held a 32-22 lead at the half and extended it to 45-28 midway through the second half on a 3-pointer by Fields.

"I thought we got a lot of great efforts from a number of guys," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "I feel really comfortable with those nine guys, and I'm getting more comfortable."

Overall, Pittsburgh had eight players with at least five points, and held a 28-2 advantage in bench points.

"We distributed the ball very well, we ran our motion well, we got each other open and got some great shots," said Ramon, who finished with five assists along with Fields.

"We knew that depth was one of their strengths," South Florida coach Robert McCullum said. "They've got a lot of pieces. They've got all the pieces it takes to certainly make a run well into March and April."

One of the reasons for the Panthers' balance was the ineffectiveness of Gray, the team's leading scorer and top post presence in the Big East. He shot just 2-of-7 in playing 20 minutes due to foul trouble.

Facing constant double-teams, the 7-0 Gray kept the ball moving, helping Pittsburgh shoot 62.5 percent (10-of-16) on 3-pointers.

Defensively, Gray had four of the Panthers' five blocks.

"Aaron is a smart player," Dixon said. "When he sees a double-team coming - and he got in foul trouble today - he (still) makes a big difference. Even if it's not scoring, it's his defense and the way he passes the ball opens up guys on the perimeter."

Kentrell Gransberry scored 14 points and Jesus Verdejo added 12 for the Bulls (9-7, 0-2), who dropped to 1-17 since joining the Big East last season.

This was the first league meeting between Pittsburgh and South Florida.

    --- --- -----
    SOUTH FLORIDA 22 26 48
    PITTSBURGH (10) 32 37 69 FINAL

    Jan 7 1:54 PM


    Jan 7 12:49 PM