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Young, Blair lead Pittsburgh past Syracuse

Jan 20, 2009 - 4:02 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Sam Young scored 22 points and DeJuan Blair collected 20 points and 12 rebounds as No. 4 Pittsburgh bounced back from its lone loss of the season with a 78-60 victory over No. 8 Syracuse on Monday.

Levance Fields added 15 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Panthers (17-1, 5-1 Big East), who shot 59 percent (19-of-32) in the second half and outrebounded the Orange, 37-24.

Pittsburgh lost its spot as the top team in the country after suffering a 69-63 loss at Louisville on Saturday, but showed no ill effects against Syracuse (17-3, 5-2). The Panthers grabbed a 31-28 advantage at the break before running away in the second half.

"I thought we played very well in Saturday's game," Blair said. "There are going to be games in this league where you give it your best effort and just come up short. Unfortunately, everyone's going to lose in the Big East. You can't take the game you lose with you to the next one. I thought we did a good job with that. Everyone really stepped up tonight."

The Orange grabbed a quick lead early in the second on Rick Jackson's layup with 18:24 left, but Pittsburgh responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead for good. Blair sparked the run with a layup and he and Young combined for seven points during the spurt.

"They are a good team," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They've got veterans - Sam Young, Levance Fields, and DeJuan Blair are all great players. Blair is as good at his position as anyone I've seen in this league in awhile. He's an excellent rebounder. I thought he wore us down at that position. We didn't do a good job of defending him. Pitt's a good rebounding team, that's why they're ranked number four in the nation."

"It all started with getting stops," Fields said. "That led to some easy transition baskets and really got our momentum going. I thought maybe we were a little jittery in the first half too. We weren't running our offense the way we're capable of and it was resulting in some tough shots. Once we calmed down, we started getting much better looks."

The Panthers put the game away with 5:43 remaining in the game when Young stepped behind a screen on the right wing and drilled a 3-pointer to make it 66-52.

"We knew a game like this would happen for him," Fields said of Young. "He broke out a little bit against Louisville and that gave his confidence a big boost. He's a natural scorer and it's very hard to keep guys like that down for too long."

Syracuse managed only two field goals in the final five minutes and shot 42 percent (23-of-55) in the contest, including 7-of-20 from beyond the arc.

"I thought we had a chance early in the first 25 minutes," Boeheim said. "We had a good opportunity to go ahead, but it just didn't happen. Pitt is a tremendous team. Going down the stretch, we couldn't make the shots. We didn't capitalize and Pitt did."

Andy Rautins scored 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting for the Orange, who connected on just 7-of-16 free-throw attempts.

"There were definitely stretches where they could have gotten frustrated against us," Blair said. "Some of their scorers weren't scoring all that much which, I know can be hard for a player. Andy Rautins had a great game for them though. I thought his shooting really kept them in the game for a long time."

Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf, who average a total of 30.7 points, managed 17 on Monday, only two of which came in the first half.