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Young's second half boosts Pitt to win over St. John's at MSG

Jan 24, 2008 - 3:51 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh's frequent trips to Madison Square Garden had not resulted in victories over the home team in some time, but that all changed rather decisively on Wednesday.

Sam Young scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half as the 17th-ranked Panthers pulled away for an 81-57 victory over St. John's in a Big East Conference contest.

Ronald Ramon added 16 for Pittsburgh (16-3, 4-2 Big East), which has won four of five since opening league play with a one-point loss at Villanova on January 6. The Panthers also posted their second-biggest lopsided victory in a conference road game, falling three points shy of the school record set at Providence on March 2, 2004.

The Panthers have made frequent trips to MSG to play non-conference games, conference tournament games and to oppose St. John's (7-10, 1-5). Headed for an eighth straight winning season, Pittsburgh is 19-8 here since the program's streak of winning campaigns began in 2000-01.

None of those wins were against St. John's, which had captured the previous six matchups in the series here. The most recent victory was a five-point win two years ago that handed Pittsburgh its first loss of the 2005-06 campaign.

"We as a whole were losers to St. John's in the past," Pittsburgh guard Keith Benjamin said. "So we just wanted to come here and get this win because we've lost to them here the past couple of years."

"I said before the game, people said St. John's isn't that good but they keep beating us," Young added. "It's something we got to do."

While the recent history against St. John's seemed to matter to the players, it was irrelevant to coach Jamie Dixon, whose main concern was rebounding from Saturday's 62-59 loss at Cincinnati. The Panthers, who were coming off a nine-point win over Georgetown, shot just 42 percent and allowed the Bearcats to rip off 13 consecutive points in the second half.

"I don't (think) anything matters from two or three years ago," Dixon said. "We have always responded. This was another example of handling and responding from a loss. We responded from the Villanova game and we got better. That is what you have to do."

Winless against the Red Storm at MSG since January 22, 1995, the Panthers never trailed, leading by as many as 13 points before taking a 38-27 lead at halftime.

Pittsburgh did allow St. John's to get within seven early in the second, but Young scored 15 points in a 24-12 run that opened up a 62-43 cushion with 9:47 remaining.

"When Sam gets in a zone like that, there's really nothing you can say," Benjamin said.

Young started off 3-of-7 from the field in the first 20 minutes but made his next seven shots and finished 10-of-17. He fell two points shy of his career high set on January 12 against Seton Hall while not committing a turnover for the first time this season.

"I didn't have any turnovers," said Young, who had three assists. "I wanted to have a game where I had a couple of assists and no turnovers."

Anthony Mason Jr. scored a career-high 29 points but had little help from the rest of his teammates. Mason shot 12-of-17 but the rest of the Red Storm finished 12-of-34 from the floor.

St. John's, which is playing eight freshman, dropped its fourth in a row. Three of those losses have been by double digits and the Red Storm has failed to reach 70 points each time.

"We have to take our lumps in order to be good. You have to take your lumps sometimes" Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said. "We are playing against quality. Not good teams, great teams. We just have to battle through it."

"We are young," Mason added. "We just have to tough it out and play as hard as we can."

    --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH (17) 38 43 81
    ST JOHNS 27 30 57 FINAL

    Jan 23 9:03 PM


    Jan 23 7:52 PM