for this game

Panthers survive without injured star Gray

Feb 20, 2007 - 5:09 AM SOUTH ORANGE, New Jersey (Ticker) -- With a true team effort, No. 8 Pittsburgh rallied around its injured star to set a school record.

Levance Fields scored all 15 of his points in the second half as the Panthers held on for a 71-68 victory over struggling Seton Hall in a Big East Conference matchup.

Levon Kendall added a season-high 14 points and Jamie Dixon became the fastest coach in school history to reach 100 victories for Pittsburgh (24-4, 11-2 Big East), which won a school record sixth straight league road contest despite playing without conference preseason player of the year Aaron Gray.

"We are 6-0 in conference games on the road," Dixon said. "It's a great sign and a reflection of our decision making. Our understanding of what we need to do. It's our recognition of what the other teams are trying to do."

"(The road winning streak) is big," Kendall said. "We have been really good this year at closing games and we have another tough one against Georgetown on Saturday."

The Panthers lead the Hoyas by one-half game for first place in the conference.

The 7-0 Gray, who is averaging 14.5 points on 57 percent shooting and 10 rebounds, injured his left ankle in the waning seconds of Saturday's 65-61 triumph against Washington and could not go in this one. Sophomore Sam Young got the start in Gray's absence and recorded 11 points and four rebounds.

"(I'm) spending a lot of time with my trainer hanging out with him a ton - it feels better already," Gray said. "Just taking it one day at a time and we will see how it goes."

Robert Ramon scored nine points and Mike Cook added eight for Pittsburgh, which shot 55 percent (27-of-49) and held a 32-21 edge on the boards.

"We knew we had to rebound real well with Aaron out, but we have done that all year and it again showed tonight," Kendall said.

Pittsburgh led by four at the half and consecutive 3-pointers by Fields capped a 16-4 run and provided the Panthers a 59-45 bulge with 5:20 to play. His fast-break layup rebuilt a 62-54 edge with 2:54 remaining.

"They were points that we needed at the right time," Fields said. "Tried to keep getting my teammates involved and knew we had to make plays. When I play aggressive - I score."

"He was the key and really hit some big shots for us tonight," Dixon said. "What was key about those shots was the patience he showed. It wasn't like he came down and fired up the shots. We came down and wore them down defensively on those possessions."

Seton Hall went to a full-court press, forced numerous turnovers and got within 64-61 on a follow shot by Paul Gause with 75 ticks left, but Ramon split two free throws and after a 3-point miss by Jamar Nutter, Fields swished a pair from the charity stripe with 50 seconds left for a 67-61 edge.

"Our pressure really bothered them down the stretch," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "They just made some plays. ... I thought Levance Fields carried them through the fire. He helped them get the win because of leadership and being used to winning."

But the Hall kept coming and got within 70-68 on a deep 3-pointer by Nutter with 6.4 seconds left. Fields split a pair from the line, but a half-court runner by Nutter at the buzzer bounced off the back iron.

Eugene Harvey scored 24 points and made 11-of-11 free throws and Nutter added 19 for the Pirates (12-14, 3-10), who have lost five straight overall and eight consecutive league games.

"It is what it is; the facts are what they are," Gonzalez said.

Seton Hall opened a quick 14-4 edge five minutes in on two shots from the arc by Nutter, but Pittsburgh used a 22-10 run over the final 11:10 of the first half to forge a 30-26 edge at the break.