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Blair powers Pittsburgh to rout of DePaul

Feb 8, 2009 - 12:22 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- After a sluggish start, Pittsburgh received a jolt of energy from DeJuan Blair, as it so often does.

Blair scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, powering fifth-ranked Pittsburgh to a 92-69 victory over DePaul on Saturday.

It was the 15th double-double of the season for Blair, the Big East Conference's second-leading rebounder.

The sophomore forward was unstoppable inside, making 13-of-22 shots and grabbing nine of his rebounds on the offensive glass.

"They were giving me the ball, and I was making it," Blair said. "This is the best I've played and I'm trying to keep it going."

The combination of Blair and guard Levance Fields, who scored 13 points and handed out a career-high 16 assists, was too much for the Blue Demons to handle. The 16 assists also matched Pittsburgh's record set by Bob Shrewsbury against South Carolina on February 14, 1976.

Seven of Blair's double-doubles have come in the last 10 games. He grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds in a 93-80 win over Notre Dame on January 31.

"This isn't my freshman year, when I hit the wall or whatever you all talked about last year," Blair said. "I'm going to try to keep it going for my team and I will do anything for us to win."

Still, the Panthers (21-2, 8-2 Big East) trailed by as many as six points - 29-23 - with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.

However, Jermaine Dixon hit a pair of 3-pointers a 13-0 run that ended the first half and gave Pittsburgh a 42-33 lead. The Panthers pulled away in the second half en route to third straight win since a 67-57 loss at Villanova on January 28.

DePaul (8-16, 0-11), the only winless Big East team in conference play, suffered its 11th straight defeat. The Blue Demons have matched their worst start in conference play from 1995-96, when they were in Conference USA.

Mac Koshwal scored 18 points for DePaul, which is mired in its longest slide since dropping 13 in a row at the conclusion of 1996-97 season.

Brad Wanamaker scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half for the Panthers, who torched DePaul by shooting just under 56 percent from the field (38-of-68).