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Cook helps Pittsburgh rout Florida A&M

Dec 31, 2006 - 5:42 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh continues to be almost unbeatable at home.

Mike Cook scored 16 points as the 11th-ranked Panthers breezed to a 77-51 victory over Florida A&M.

The Panthers (12-2) broke away from a 37-26 halftime lead, opening the second half with an 11-0 run to improve to 73-6 at home since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002.

Antonio Graves added 14 points for Pitt, which is 67-1 on its home court against non-conference foes. That helped add up to Florida A&M's 24th consecutive loss to ranked opponents, as well as snap the Rattlers' four-game winning streak.

"We played Maryland, Illinois, Florida and now Pitt," Florida A&M coach Mike Gillespie said. "We've played three of the four best teams in the county, and I think Pitt truly deserves the recognition and the ranking they got."

Once again, the Panthers got a mediocre effort from 7-foot center Aaron Gray. The Wooden Award candidate scored just five points for the second straight game although he grabbed 11 rebounds.

Panthers coach Jamie Dixon attributed Gray's lack of offense to the Rattlers sitting back in a zone defense. And with Syracuse and its signature 2-3 zone up next for Pitt, Dixon wasn't about to complain.

"We'll see a lot of it (zone) Thursday night, so it was good to see it for 40 minutes tonight," Dixon said. "It's really great to see how I thought we almost passed up shots. Other people are dealing with selfishness, and we're dealing with very unselfish players.

"Mike Cook and Aaron Gray really passed the ball well. Levance (Fields) was real unselfish. Our guys are all about the team. Our guys are so concerned with other guys."

The Panthers had 26 baskets on 23 assists and also showed the ability to hit from outside, connecting on 13 3-pointers.

"We knew they'd take our inside game out of it with (Gray), so Coach thought they'd loosen up on our shooters," said Fields, who scored 11 points. "We felt we shot well enough to open up against their zone."

Rome Sanders scored 16 points to pace Florida A&M (6-7), which was limited to 33 percent (19-of-58) shooting from the field.

    --- --- -----
    FLORIDA A&M 26 25 51
    PITTSBURGH (11) 37 40 77 FINAL

    Dec 30 9:56 PM

    FLORIDA A&M 26

    Dec 30 8:46 PM