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Blair, Pittsburgh roll past Duquesne

Dec 4, 2008 - 6:06 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- By growing up in Pittsburgh, DeJuan Blair has been very familiar with Duquesne, such as how it has no one inside to handle him.

Blair had 14 points and 17 rebounds as third-ranked Pittsburgh continued to rule its inner-city rivalry with Duquesne, posting a 78-51 rout on Wednesday.

A product of nearby Schenley High, Blair went 6-of-13 from the field and controlled the offensive glass with 10 boards as the Panthers defeated the Dukes for the eighth consecutive time.

"DeJuan's a special player who has a nose for the ball and great hands," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said about Blair's offensive rebounding. "It's something he's done exceptionally well from the moment he stepped on campus."

Behind Blair, the Panthers finished with a 44-31 advantage on the boards in claiming their 34th straight win against a non-conference foe at Petersen Events Center.

Sam Young led the way with 23 points and Jermaine Dixon added 12 for Pittsburgh, which began its seventh straight season with a 7-0 record.

Blair's effort was much more dominant that his performance in last year's 73-68 win, when the freshman battled foul issues for 10 points and nine rebounds.

"As a Pittsburgh kid, I've been watching Duquesne for a while," Blair said. "I know some of these guys from summer league so there's a little bit of a familiarity there that makes you want to win more."

Damian Saunders scored 15 points for Duquesne (4-2), which lost to a ranked opponent by at least 23 points for the second straight game. The Dukes were topped, 95-72, at then-No. 5 Duke on Friday.

"They are both very well coached teams," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said of both Pittsburgh and Duke. "They both play hard. They give effort in two different areas. Pitt plays with intensity on the glass like no other. They both run two different systems, but stuff like that jumps out. I wouldn't be surprised to see them both in the Final Four."

Despite all of its success at home, Pittsburgh saw Duquesne stick around for most of the first half, and even take a 20-19 lead on Melquin Bolding's layup in transition with 6:20 left.

Blair then sandwiched a pair of baskets in between a 3-pointer by Dixon as the Panthers went on an 11-2 run. The 6-7 sophomore had a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards in the opening half, leading Pittsburgh to a 36-28 advantage at the half.

The Panthers returned from intermission with a 7-0 run, and later pulled ahead 69-41 with 6:49 remaining when Young capped a 15-3 burst with consecutive 3-pointers.

"We didn't come out like we wanted to," Blair said. "We started a little bit slow in the first half. Fortunately, we were able to come out with a little fire after halftime. Our goal was to turn it up right from the start, and that's where we put the game away."

Young went 9-of-14 from the field en route to his fourth game with at least 23 points in his last six.

Levance Fields added eight points and 11 assists for Pittsburgh, which shot 52 percent (16-of-31) in the second half to blow open the contest.

Aaron Jackson, the Dukes' second-leading scorer at 16.6 points coming in, was held to six points on 3-of-9 from the field.

As a team, Duquesne shot 36 percent (20-of-55) and committed 25 turnovers.