Blair powers Pittsburgh past FDUNov 15, 2008 - 4:13 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh continued its dominance over non-conference opponents on Friday.
DeJuan Blair had 17 points and 13 rebounds as sixth-ranked Pittsburgh overpowered Fairleigh Dickinson, 86-63, in the season opener for both teams.
Sam Young scored 15 points and Levance Fields added 15 and eight assists for the Panthers (1-0), who have started 10-0 each of the last five seasons.
"I thought it was a really good start to the season," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "We did some things really well tonight, especially considering it was our first game. As always, there are some things we can improve on. We have five returning players and five new guys and with numbers like that you're going to have some growing pains."
Fields was also playing on a bad left foot, which he re-injured in August after it caused him to miss 12 games last season.
"I started practicing about three or four weeks ago and I started practicing with contact about two weeks ago, so I had a feeling I'd be ready," said the senior, who did not turn the ball over. "I've been taking it easy, with a couple days off now and then, but there isn't a lot of soreness right now. The main thing is just my conditioning."
The victory was the team's 29th straight over a team outside of the Big East Conference, setting a school record.
Pittsburgh started fast as Blair scored eight points during a game-opening 16-2 run with 13:39 remaining in the half.
The Knights never got closer than nine the rest of the way and the Panthers held a 45-29 lead at the break.
"I've been coaching here for 25 years, I've been to three NCAA Tournaments, and I've never seen a man-to man defense like this," FDU coach Tom Green said. "This is the best defense I've ever coached against. Jamie (Dixon) runs a tough system. They played the ball, they blitzed, it was incredible. We couldn't execute anything. We even tried new plays, stuff they've never seen, and we still couldn't execute."
Blair finished with 14 points - all scored on layups and dunks - and nine rebounds in the first half for Pittsburgh, which shot 59 percent (20-of-34) in the opening 20 minutes.
The Panthers put the game out of reach midway through the second half, using a 21-4 burst to extend its bulge to 70-38 with 9:07 left to play.
Pittsburgh played without redshirt sophomore Gilbert Brown, who is out with a stress fracture in his left foot. Brown averaged 6.5 points last season.
"His foot is coming along slowly," Dixon said. "He was slowed in the summer by injury too, which is too bad because we really need him to step it up and play if we're going to be the team we want to be."
Eric Moore scored 17 points to lead the Knights (0-1), who were outscored, 50-16, in the paint.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
FAIR DICKINSON 29 34 63
PITTSBURGH (6) 45 41 86 FINAL
Nov 14 8:47 PM
- NCAA BB
FAIR DICKINSON 29
(6) PITTSBURGH 45 HALFTIME
Nov 14 7:46 PM
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