Blair, Fields pace Pittsburgh past St. LouisNov 12, 2007 - 2:45 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- DeJuan Blair continued his solid start at Pittsburgh.
Blair scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds Sunday as 20th-ranked Pittsburgh held on for a 69-58 triumph over Saint Louis in the Hispanic College Fund Challenge.
A freshman forward, Blair has averaged 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in his first three games with the Panthers (3-0), who are hoping to fill a major void in the post this season.
"This has been a good experience as far as starting off my college career," Blair said. "But I've got a lot more work to do."
Last year, Pittsburgh's offense primarily ran through 7-foot center Aaron Gray, who now plays for the NBA's Chicago Bulls. The Panthers plan to deploy a much smaller lineup this season, as the 6-7 Blair was their tallest starter Sunday.
Blair shot 8-of-15 from the floor, using a variety of post moves and also attacking the glass for five offensive rebounds. The Pittsburgh native also recorded three steals in his 30 minutes of action.
"(Blair's) offensive numbers look pretty good, but the thing that sticks out for me was his defense," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "In the past last year, I don't think we could play him for 34 minutes and (have) him get the same defensive effort that he did. He's stronger mentally and lighter physically."
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus also offered high words of praise for Blair, comparing the 275-pound freshman with former Wake Forest standout and current San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan.
"Blair has phenomenal hands," Majerus said. "He has a good touch and he has strong hands and he has a joy about playing. The kid's a big-time player.
"It's the same thing that I used to say about Duncan when (Utah) faced Duncan at this age - I'd like to be his agent. He's a phenomenal low-block talent."
Levance Fields scored 16 points and dished out six assists for Pittsburgh, which shot 28-of-55 (51 percent) from the floor to offset a poor night from the free-throw line. The Panthers made just 9-of-18 shots from the line.
Sam Young chipped in 12 points for Pittsburgh, which owned a 33-24 edge on the boards. The 6-6 Young was named MVP of this four-team round-robin event after averaging 19.3 points in the Panthers' three games.
Kevin Lisch scored 13 points to pace the Billikens (2-1), who attempted just four free throws and committed 14 turnovers.
Facing a 27-21 halftime deficit, Saint Louis closed within 40-37 on Paul Eckerle's 3-pointer six minutes into the second half.
But the Panthers went on a 19-7 run over the next 10 minutes and went ahead, 59-44, on Fields' jumper with 4:50 remaining.
- HISPANIC COLLEGE FUND CLASSIC
NCAA BB HISPANIC COLLEGE FUND CLASSIC
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
SAINT LOUIS 21 37 58
PITTSBURGH (20) 27 42 69 FINAL
Nov 11 7:50 PM
- HISPANIC COLLEGE FUND CLASSIC
NCAA BB SAINT LOUIS 21
(20) PITTSBURGH 27 HALFTIME
Nov 11 6:42 PM
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