Feb. 28, 2009
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - It was like the start of a bad rerun for the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Four days after losing to Providence just 24 hours after they moved back into the top spot in The Associated Press' poll, the Panthers were having trouble shaking Seton Hall.
This time, they were able to take control in the second half and pulled away to an 89-78 victory Saturday night.
"In a way, that loss prepared us for this game, another senior night, all the emotions and they had a good start," Pittsburgh guard Levance Fields said. "We did a great job of pulling together. We tried to play too hard (against Providence) but this time we were able to pull away after halftime."
Sam Young had 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers (26-3, 13-3 Big East), who moved back into the top spot in Top 25 on Monday and lost 81-73 at Providence the next day.
"Losses bother us, that's why our record is what it is," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "We did things better but the last game was one of those things, something got away from us. This was about us and not about that game."
The Panthers took a 36-31 halftime lead against Seton Hall and had it at 10 points for the first time on a move down low by Young that made it 49-39 with 15:42 to play.
With Young handling the bulk of the scoring and the Panthers dominating the boards at both ends, Seton Hall was never able to make any kind of run and Pittsburgh improved to 3-2 this season when ranked No. 1.
"I thought we played with a lot of intensity and heart," Dixon said. "Outrebounding them was something we talked about doing and we're proud of that."
Jeremy Hazell had 25 points for the Pirates (15-13, 6-10), who have lost four of their last five.
Seton Hall dropped to 0-12 all-time against top-ranked teams including a 62-54 loss to Connecticut earlier this season.
Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair entered the game third in the nation in rebounding, averaging 13.0 per game. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound sophomore banged knees with a Seton Hall player in the game's first 3 minutes and left for the locker room. He returned to the game with 13:23 left in the half and had no points on 0-for-2 shooting and two rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.
He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds and Pittsburgh had a 44-21 advantage on the boards for the game.
"DeJuan getting hurt changed things," Dixon said. "He wasn't moving as well but he gutted it out with a lot of character and heart. We'll wait until tomorrow to see how bad it is. He wanted to go and that says a lot about him."
Young was 10-for-15 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Fields, who entered the game third in the nation averaging 7.5 assists, had 10 points and 10 assists. Jermaine Dixon had 14 points for Pittsburgh.
Fields admitted that when Blair was down he thought of Marquette guard Dominic James, whose season ended this week when he broke a bone in his foot in a loss to Connecticut.
"You don't want to see something like Dominic James, that's the first thing in your mind," Fields said. "It was good to see DeJuan get up. It would have been tough without him."
Robert Mitchell and Eugene Harvey both had 17 points for the Pirates.
The Panthers were able to win easily by offsetting a season-high 23 turnovers by shooting 51.7 percent from the field (30-for-58), just above the 48.1 percent they shot coming in, the second-best figure in the Big East.
"We gave everything we had. They're a great, great team and I thought we played them tough for 25, 30 minutes but we couldn't sustain it. We hit the wall," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "It took so much out of us just to stay with them. We have no answer for Sam Young. He was spectacular.
"They asserted themselves in the second half. There's a reason they're No. 1 and one of the best teams in the league. It was just Pittsburgh being better than us, wearing us out and winning."
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