for this game

Pittsburgh pulls away to remain unbeaten

Jan 15, 2009 - 4:25 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon was happy with the way his team shot the ball on Wednesday. With a tough schedule coming up, the Panthers will have to continue to be at their best.

Tyrell Biggs scored a season-high 16 points and DeJuan Blair had 13 and 18 rebounds as top-ranked Pittsburgh remained unbeaten with a 75-62 victory over South Florida on Wednesday.

Sam Young scored 14 points and Levance Fields had 11 and 13 assists for the Panthers (16-0, 4-0 Big East), who visit No. 20 Louisville on Saturday and host eighth-ranked Syracuse on Monday.

"I thought this was a great offensive performance by us tonight," Dixon said. "You look at Levance Fields getting 13 assists. That just speaks to how fluidly our offense was running and how in rhythm we were on that end. When you have 20 assists as a team against just eight turnovers, those are the kinds of numbers that any coach in the country will take in a heartbeat."

One of the annual bottom feeders in the Big East, South Florida (6-10, 1-3) did its best to hang around early on, only trailing 41-37 at intermission after shooting 57 percent (12-of-21) in the first half.

But Pittsburgh had too much strength inside over the second half as Blair had nine of his points after halftime and nine of his rebounds came on the offensive end.

The Panthers shot 49 percent (29-of-59) for the game, including 10-of-18 from the arc.

"We knew they are good on the glass and the inside, so we tried to push them to three-point range, but they were good from there," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "We usually hold our opponents to 30 percent from three-point range, but they came out and shot 55. Pitt's a team that knew how to make the extra pass."

The Panthers started to pull away with an 8-0 run to take a 55-44 lead with 13:54 to play. Fields and Brad Wanamaker each made 3-pointers during the run.

Pittsburgh kept South Florida at bay for the remainder of the contest, never letting the visitors come closer than nine points. The Panthers took their largest lead at 73-56 on Blair's layup with 3:40 remaining.

"I've said all along that we're a good shooting team, and it was just a matter of time before we got going," Dixon said. "We have guys that are capable of getting going from the perimeter, but you don't want to start relying on outside shooting. That's not necessarily going to be there every night, so that's why we need to rebound and defend."

It was the second win as the nation's top team for Pittsburgh, which had never been ranked No. 1 prior to last week's poll.

The contest was delayed for 20 minutes due to South Florida's late arrival but Pittsburgh did not make any excuses for its slow start.

"They just came out very patient and were knocking down some tough shots," Blair said. "Give them credit, but I thought we were a little sluggish on defense, particularly in the first half. We know we need to play way better defense than that."

Freshman Augustus Gilchrist and Dominique Jones each scored 22 points to pace the Bulls, who were outrebounded, 37-23.

South Florida was also outscored in the paint, 32-14, and gave up 21 second-chance points.

"We did a lot of things well," Heath said. "I thought we played this team well. We came in here and shot 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line, I'll take that, but at the same time, we lost by 13. Pitt's rebounding ability taught us a lesson on how to get the ball."