Young, Blair help Pittsburgh overpower AkronNov 22, 2008 - 3:58 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh continued its dominance in the month of November on Friday.
Sam Young scored 26 points and DeJuan Blair had 16 and 13 rebounds as sixth-ranked Pittsburgh cruised to an 86-67 victory over Akron.
Levance Fields added 19 points and seven assists for the Panthers (3-0), who improved to 27-0 in the month of November under coach Jamie Dixon. Pittsburgh has not lost a game in November since 1998.
"I thought we played very well in the first half," Dixon said. "We really did what we wanted to do in the first half against them both on offense and defense. We kind of lost focus in the second half, especially on defense, but I'll take the blame for that. I made some substitutions trying to get some guys some minutes and I think it really threw us off our game."
The Panthers, who have begun each of the past five seasons 10-0, asserted themselves in the paint early, scoring 16 of their first 24 points on layups or dunks.
Pittsburgh broke the game open midway through the first half with a 15-2 run for a 38-19 bulge with 4:19 left before the break.
"They're a good team and we're really young," Zips coach Keith Dambrot said. "When you play a high-caliber team like this, if you're not in perfect position, it won't happen. We struggled. Mentally and physically, we weren't in the right position."
Akron trailed by 18 at the break and tried to stay close, but failed to make any serious dent in Pittsburgh's lead, which never dipped below 15 points.
Blair capped an 8-0 Panthers run with a three-point play midway through the second half to give the team their largest lead at 73-50 with 6:57 remaining.
Pittsburgh outrebounded Akron, 41-24, and had 22 of its rebounds on the offensive end.
"When you're up by twenty rebounds at the half, you have to be pleased with that," Dixon said. "I think the number of offensive boards we had was really related to taking good shots. In that situation, their defense starts to scramble and our guys know when it's going up, so it's going to lead to good things."
Young shot 9-of-14 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from the arc to record his first 20-point game of the season. The senior had 15 games with at least that many points a season ago.
"I was a little more aggressive tonight I think, but that wasn't the biggest difference," Young said. "I think what set tonight apart was that I was able to hit some 3-pointers. That's going to loosen their guys up defensively a bit, and give me more room to maneuver. It was just a shot that wasn't going in for me before tonight."
Brett McKnight scored 23 points to lead the Zips (2-1).
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