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Red-hot Pittsburgh faces Oakland in Colonial Classic

Nov 19, 2006 - 4:18 PM Oakland (3-1) at No. 5 Pittsburgh (4-0) 5:00 pm EST

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh is a contender for the national championship this season. They are also more than star center Aaron Gray.

The fifth-ranked Panthers will host Oakland in their third game of the First Commonwealth Colonial Athletic Association Basketball Classic on Sunday.

A 7-foot senior center, Gray scored 14 points in 17 minutes to lift Pittsburgh to an 85-68 win over Massachusetts in the second round of the Colonial Classic. However, the team, which is returning eight of 10 players from a 25-8 squad, had five players score in double figures.

Gray, who was on the bench with foul trouble before halftime, returned for the second half but suffered a cut on his lip in the first minute that required seven stitches. By the time he returned, the Panthers had built a 68-52 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining. The Big East's preseason player of the year should play on Sunday.

Mike Cook also scored 14 points as the Panthers won their 15th consecutive non-conference game. Pittsburgh scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 46-37 lead at the break and steadily pulled away thereafter.

After a season-opening loss to Massachusetts, the Golden Grizzlies bounced back with a 67-52 victory over Northeastern in tournament play. Shawn Hopes scored 17 points and freshman guard Jonathon Jones scored 13 of his 15 in the second half to lead Oakland.

The Golden Grizzlies have lost their last 13 contests against ranked opponents.

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