for this game

Gray sparks Pittsburgh past St. John's

Jan 28, 2007 - 1:06 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh brought St. John's modest winning streak to a screeching half.

Aaron Gray led a balanced attack with 13 points and 10 rebounds to power the ninth-ranked Panthers to a 72-46 romp over the Red Storm in a Big East Conference matchup.

Ten players scored for Pitt (19-3, 7-1 Big East), which shot a blistering 53 percent (31-of-58) from the field in improving to 14-1 at home.

"Every guy played pretty well. Every guy stepped up and did the things that we were trying to do," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "To see 10 guys with four points or more, I don't know if that's happened too often, but that's pretty impressive. It was great to see everybody in there."

Holding a 33-23 lead at halftime, the Panthers scored the first seven points of the second half in the midst of a 20-6 run that pushed the advantage to 53-29 midway through the final 20 minutes.

"After halftime we knew we could play better and we just really wanted to shut them down," said Pitt forward Levon Kendall, who held St. John's leading scorer Lamont Hamilton to eight points. "That was a focus of ours. We did a good job of team defense and he (Hamilton) never really got going. Every shot was contested and he got nothing easy.

"I enjoy guarding the best post player, that's what I'm known for doing."

The crushing defeat ended a two-game winning streak for St. John's (12-8, 3-5), which remains winless on the road in conference games.

"St. John's was playing great coming in here, having won two great games against Notre Dame and Syracuse, so we didn't expect things to turn out as they did," Dixon said. "We played very well. We had a lot of respect for how they'd been playing so maybe that was helpful for us."

Pitt gave an indication of what was to come as all five starters scored to make it 10-5. Sam Young came off the bench to contribute 11 points as six players scored at least seven points.

Gray, a 7-foot Wooden Award candidate, registered his 10th double-double of the season in helping the Panthers to a dominating 41-26 edge on the backboards.

"(Young) played great. He hadn't played like that all year," Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said. "We knew he was a very good player. We knew he could shoot it but in a situation when you've got a weapon like Gray, you've got to pick your poison. Our poison was we'd rather have Young shooting it from outside rather than having Gray get layups inside and he made us pay today."

Pittsburgh took control in the first half, scoring seven straight points to move ahead, 26-12, on Gray's dunk with 6:08 to play. Eugene Lawrence and Larry Wright both hit 3-pointer to keep St. John's within 10 at the half.

The Red Storm couldn't sustain the momentum, scoring just four points in the opening eight minutes following the break.

"They're a pretty good defensive team but I don't think their defense was the reason we couldn't score," Lawrence said. "When you're on the road, there are certain things that you can't do, especially when you're playing a good team because the crowd will get into the game and it's a different atmosphere. Little things will kill you in the end of the game when you're on the road."

Anthony Mason Jr. scored 10 points to lead the Red Storm, which shot 32 percent (17-of-53) and hit just 4-of-24 from the arc.

    --- --- -----
    ST JOHNS 23 23 46
    PITTSBURGH (9) 33 39 72 FINAL


    Jan 27 5:51 PM

    ST JOHNS 23

    Jan 27 4:49 PM