DeJuan Blair dunks in the Panthers' 82-53 win over Miami on Monday night.
Nov. 17, 2008
PITTSBURGH -- Pitt's players sported Band-Aids on their non-shooting arms following an unexpectedly easy victory over Miami (Ohio), the result of some postgame flu shots.
The way Miami coach Charlie Coles was talking, the wrong team got patched up after his RedHawks played a physical opponent that did most of the pushing around.
Jermaine Dixon hit two 3-pointers while scoring eight points during No. 6 Pittsburgh's 16-2 run to start the second half and the Panthers went on to beat Miami 82-53 on Monday night.
Levance Fields had 12 points and a career-high 12 assists and Sam Young and Dixon scored 14 points each as Pittsburgh (2-0) avoided the tight game that former Panthers coach Ben Howland's No. 4 UCLA Bruins had against Miami (1-2) five nights before. Miami led by five points late before losing 64-59.
Coles was asked which Top 10 team he liked better, UCLA or Pitt. He wouldn't say initially but then changed his mind the longer he talked.
"Dixon, boy, did he have a game? That's what we weren't counting on," Coles said. "That hurt us. The front line? Whoa, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt. It would appear Pitt is a little bit better. They're a Top 10 team and I don't know who would be a whole lot better. They're strong and physical -- they're not dirty -- but they're physical and they enjoy playing together. And they're good."
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said playing the RedHawks is "like two hours in a dentist's chair," because they grind out relatively low-scoring games, but this one proved to be a painless, in-and-out visit. Except for the flu shots.
Pitt took a 9-0 lead in the opening 4½ minutes, saw its lead trimmed to as few as three points late in the first half and then opened up a 51-32 lead when Dixon finished off the second-half run with a steal and drive. Dixon hit a 3-pointer that started the half and another that made it 45-32.
"I know they need me to knock down shots," said Jermaine Dixon, who sometimes returns to the Petersen Events Center late at night to work on his outside shooting. "I've got to come out and play defense, but I also need to knock down shots."
Dixon, a 6-foot-3 junior college transfer and the brother of former Maryland star Juan Dixon, is starting because small forward Gilbert Brown is sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot.
DeJuan Blair had 10 points and nine rebounds and Tyrell Biggs added 10 points for Pitt, which shot 59.3 percent (32-of-54) -- 64.3 percent (18-of-28) in the second half -- to Miami's 31 percent (18-of-58).
Kenny Hayes scored 18 points and Tyler Dierkers had 12 for Miami, which is playing its first six games on the road.
Coles was hoping the familiarity between the UCLA and Pitt would help -- much of Howland's defensive system was retained by Jamie Dixon -- but the RedHawks never solved Pitt's smothering man-to-man.
"I was thinking, if we could just get a basket when it was 35-32," said Coles, who was 1-1 against Pitt as a player with Miami. "We took a shot that wasn't what we wanted. Then they went crazy, they went wild. We never got it back."
With Pitt shutting down leading scorer Michael Bramos, the RedHawks couldn't mount a run to get back into their first game against Pitt since a 66-42 Miami victory 40 years ago that attracted 639 to Fitzgerald FieldHouse. Now, Pitt draws nearly 20 times that for home games.
Bramos, averaging 17.5 points and coming off a 22-point game against UCLA, missed all six shots and didn't score until making two free throws for his only points with 11:36 remaining and Pitt up by 20.
Despite the presence of Ben Roethlisberger, the former Miami quarterback who now plays for the Steelers, Pitt won a school-record 30th consecutive non-conference home game and its 79th in its last 80. Pitt had lost its last five to Miami, but all those games were played in the 1960s.
The RedHawks' frustration became evident early in the second half when they began rushing shots, with Bramos once throwing up an off-balance 3-pointer that missed by several feet.