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Pitt uses strong finish to repel Rutgers

Dec 31, 2008 - 11:00 PM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Tyrell Biggs came up big when Pittsburgh needed him most.

Biggs sparked a second-half surge as third-ranked Pittsburgh remained unbeaten with a 78-72 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday.

In the Big East Conference opener for both schools, the heavily favored Panthers (13-0) had to rally from a 55-50 deficit midway through the second half against an inspired Scarlet Knights squad. Pittsburgh is off to its best start since going 15-0 to open the 2005-06 season.

Biggs, who had gone scoreless, then came alive by converting consecutive driving layups as part of a game-changing run which gave the Panthers the lead for good. He also drained a jumper with under three minutes left to give the Panthers a 70-59 advantage.

Sam Young scored 18 points and Brad Wanamaker 15 for the deeper Panthers, who seemed to wear down the Scarlet Knights over the final 10 minutes.

Wanamaker also hit a pair of deep 3-pointers in the decisive surge for Pittsburgh, which should receive another stern test Saturday when it visits No. 8 Georgetown. The Hoyas upset second-ranked Connecticut on Monday.

Led by Wanamaker, the Panthers held a 31-9 advantage in bench points.

Freshman Mike Rosario scored 22 points, Anthony Farmer 20 and Corey Chandler 17 for Rutgers (9-5), which is in the midst of a brutal stretch in which it faces the nation's top-three teams in a span of six days.

The Scarlet Knights, who were coming off a 97-75 loss at top-ranked North Carolina, visit Connecticut on Saturday.

Behind Rosario's 15 points and Farmer's 12, the hot-shooting Scarlet Knights held a 43-39 halftime lead. Rutgers shot 61.5 percent (16-of-26) over the opening 20 minutes.