for this game

Young, Pittsburgh notch first Big East win at South Florida

Jan 10, 2008 - 5:21 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Sam Young made sure that a rare trip to South Florida didn't sink Pittsburgh further down in the Big East.

Young scored 22 points - 16 in the second half - as the No. 18 Panthers rebounded from their first conference loss of the season with a 79-66 victory over the Bulls on Wednesday.

Plagued by injuries to key starters Levance Fields and Mike Cook in recent weeks, Pittsburgh (13-2, 1-1 Big East) had lost two of its last three games, including its league opener with a 64-63 loss to then-No. 16 Villanova on Sunday.

The Panthers, however, put it back together against South Florida as they made their first trip here since the 1975-76 season.

"That's a good basketball team," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "They were very hungry tonight and I think they showed why they are a top-20 team in the country.

Young finished 9-of-13 from the field and Keith Benjamin knocked down three 3-pointers en route to scoring 20 points.

Freshman DeJuan Blair added 12 points and nine rebounds as Pittsburgh finished with a 36-32 advantage on the boards.

"We've got to find a way against these physical teams to neutralize the play they are having inside on us," Heath said. "The last two games, the rebounding has been the key."

Pittsburgh found itself knotted at 22-22 with just over seven minutes left in the first half when it went on a 17-6 run. Benjamin had eight points and freshman Gilbert Brown added seven during the burst.

The Panthers, who led, 40-33, at the half, remained in control until Kentrell Gransberry's layup with 13:09 remaining closed the Bulls to within 54-50.

Pittsburgh responded with a 19-6 run to put the game away. Young had eight points and Benjamin and Blair both added six during the spurt.

"I thought it was our execution on the offensive end," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said about the decisive run. "That was our big emphasis the past few days."

In the starting lineup in place of Fields, Brown ended up with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists as the Panthers went 53 percent (31-of-58) from the field.

They also bounced back from the 22 turnovers they committed against Villanova, committing just 10 against 20 assists.

Gransberry tied a career high with 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for South Florida (10-6, 1-2), which dropped its second straight contest.

"I thought Gransberry did a great job on the inside," Heath said. "He was a force all night, but we need some more guys and some help on the interior."

Jesus Verdejo finished with a Big East-best 17 points for the Bulls, who dropped to 8-70 all-time against ranked opponents.

    --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH (18) 40 39 79

    Jan 9 9:27 PM

    (18) PITTSBURGH 40

    Jan 9 8:22 PM