Pittsburgh's Keith Benjamin makes a dunk in the second half enroute to a 91-54 win over Penn State in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Dec. 10, 2005
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pitt can't seem to convince Penn State to renew a rivalry that once was one of the best in college football. For now, the Panthers will have to be satisfied with dominating the Nittany Lions in basketball.
Carl Krauser missed only two shots while scoring 20 points and unranked Pittsburgh overwhelmed rival Penn State with its size and quickness in a 91-54 rout Saturday, the Panthers' largest margin of victory in the 145-game series.
Pitt has won five in a row by an average margin of 26 points and six of seven from the Nittany Lions. Previously, Pitt's most one-sided victory was 30 points at 83-53 in 2000-01; Penn State had a 40-point win by 84-44 in 1967.
Pitt is 7-0 for the fourth consecutive season against a mostly lightweight schedule, while Penn State fell to 4-3 despite 15 points from reserve walkon Cilk McSweeney.
Penn State, smaller, slower and less athletic, didn't score until nearly three minutes were gone and had only two baskets during the first seven minutes.
"We got beat by a better basketball team in every facet," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "They were faster, stronger, quicker. We had no answer for them. We need to do something to build confidence with our younger kids. But there wasn't anything I could say positive in the locker room."
Krauser, who declared for the NBA draft last spring but later chose to return for his senior season, was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and missed two of 10 shots. He also had six assists and five rebounds while turning the ball over twice, an improvement since last season when his frequent turnovers contributed to a late-season Pitt slump.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has altered his offense with a younger and quicker team than that which featured 6-10 Chris Taft and 6-7 Chevon Troutman last season. Those Panthers represented Pitt's fourth NCAA tournament team in a row but regressed as the season went along, and they finished 20-9 after winning 31 games the season before.
Now, rather than automatically setting up in a half-court offense, Pitt is looking to score more on fast breaks.
"We're pushing the ball more and looking for good shots," Krauser said. "Why not get a good shot early if the shot is there?"
While Krauser constantly beat the Penn State defense up the floor to get open jumpers or lob the ball inside, it was 7-foot center Aaron Gray who presented the biggest matchup problems. Gray had 10 points and 12 rebounds, establishing his inside presence quickly as Pitt opened up leads of 7-0, 16-5 and 26-9.
"He's such a big kid, he's hard for our kids to get over," DeChellis said.
And if the Nittany Lions had any delusion of getting into the game, they probably didn't after 6-6 freshman Sam Young drove the baseline and, rather than simply laying the ball in, dunked over his head to make it 19-7 with 12:33 remaining in the first half. After that, Penn State offered little resistance as Pitt went on to build first-half leads of as many as 27 points.
"I kind of knew from the angle I took down the baseline that they wouldn't challenge me, and I could probably get a reverse dunk on that," said Young, who scored 11 points.
John DeGroat also scored 11 points and Levon Kendall had 10 for Pitt. Geary Claxton added 11 for Penn State, which has scored only 91 points in its last two visits to Pitt. The Panthers beat Penn State 64-37 during the 2003-04 season.