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Pittsburgh continues perfect start, beats Siena

Dec 18, 2008 - 6:13 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- DeJuan Blair scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead third-ranked Pittsburgh to a 79-66 victory over Siena on Wednesday night.

Sam Young and Tyrell Biggs both poured in 14 points for the Panthers, who are off to an 11-0 start for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

"I thought we played pretty well tonight," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "It wasn't a complete game, but you get 25 assists and just seven turnovers - those are numbers that coaches dream of."

Pittsburgh has started 10-0 in each of the last six seasons, but tripped up in its 11th game the previous two campaigns.

Clarence Jackson and Edwin Ubiles each finished with 12 points for the Saints (5-4), who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

"We played them very competitively," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "They have a lot of weapons. DeJuan Blair is one of the best post players I've seen. Even when Pitt isn't shooting the ball very well, like tonight, he still hurts you in so many ways."

The Panthers jumped out early as Blair scored four points on an early 13-0 run, which gave Pittsburgh a 15-4 edge with 12:18 left in the first half.

"I expect to have a big game every time I step on the floor," Blair said. "I actually was a little bit dry from the floor early on, but it seemed about midway through the first half that everything started clicking for me. My mentality is to keep fighting and that's what I did the whole game."

Blair continued to be the Panthers' best offensive weapon in the first half, but Siena hung in there. Kyle Downey knocked down a 3-pointer with 17 ticks remaining to cut the deficit to 37-29 at the break.

Pittsburgh came out strong after the intermission as Biggs capped a 9-0 run out of the locker room with a 3-pointer.

"I was really impressed with how we came out in the second half," Dixon said. "I thought that really set the tone for the rest of the game."

The Panthers, who outrebounded the Saints by a 44-28 margin, continued to pour on the offense in the second half - building their largest lead of the night when Jermaine Dixon's layup gave them a 61-39 advantage.

Siena failed to contain Blair throughout the game. The sophomore forward pulled down eight offensive boards and made 10-of-14 shots.

"He's got a gift for it, without a doubt," Dixon said of Blair's offensive rebounding. "You could coach guys all day everyday and they would never be as good at it as he is. His hands, his width, his tenacity are all things that are innate for him.

"He's worked very hard to get better too, both at taking his time when he goes back up with a rebound, but particularly with his outlet passing."