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Young, Pittsburgh overpower West Virginia

Feb 10, 2009 - 5:08 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Even with DeJuan Blair on the bench for the majority of the contest, Pittsburgh had too much size and strength for West Virginia.

Sam Young scored 20 points and Levance Fields added 13 and seven assists as the fourth-ranked Panthers pulled away in the second half to post a 70-59 victory over the Mountaineers on Monday.

Pittsburgh (22-2, 9-2 Big East) held West Virginia to 40 percent shooting (21-of-52) and held a 39-23 rebounding edge despite Blair battling foul trouble. The sophomore big man had eight points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes.

"I was really proud of the way we were able to grind out the game tonight," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "Obviously in the first half, we had to go long stretches without DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields on the court, and I was really proud of how we handled that. We got great contributions from our bench."

The Panthers, who had topped the 90-point plateau in each of their three previous games, got off to a slow start on the offensive end as Blair picked up his second foul with 15:15 left in the first half.

"It was a different kind of game for DeJuan, with what he had to do defensively and I think it kind of got away from him a little bit," Dixon said. "These things are going to happen, and fortunately we found a way to persevere through a lot of it."

West Virginia took a 17-13 lead on freshman Devin Ebanks' jumper with 8:38 to go in the half, but Pittsburgh answered with a 13-3 run to take a 26-20 advantage with 2:30 left before the break. The Panthers held a 29-24 edge at the intermission.

The Mountaineers stayed close early in the second half but the Panthers had too much down the stretch.

Blair made a pair of shots and Fields had four points during a 14-3 run to give Pittsburgh a 60-43 bulge with six minutes to play. Blair was sent to the bench with 8:35 left after picking up a technical foul.

"Sam Young really picked up his scoring and we all picked up our intensity on defense," Fields said.

Pittsburgh shot 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the second half as it improved to 15-0 at home this season.

"We felt we were the quicker team coming in and we wanted to use that to our advantage," Panthers guard Brad Wanamaker said. "Our goal was to chase down every loose ball, and when we were able to make a steal, to try to run and turn that into points in transition."

Alex Ruoff scored 17 points and Ebanks added 16 to pace the Mountaineers (16-8, 5-6), who fell to 2-7 against ranked teams this season. Leading scorer Da'Sean Butler was held to four points on 2-of-12 shooting before fouling out after playing just 18 minutes.

"DeJuan Blair didn't play much the first half, but neither did Ruoff or Butler," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "We were still down five. We just can't get outrebounded by 16. We have got to be sure we are in the same ballpark. Every possession is so important and we struggled to score. We have got to score the ball better."