Dec. 28, 2009
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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Ashton Gibbs scored 23 points and Pittsburgh bolted to a 13-point lead in the opening 6 1/2 minutes to take control, and the Panthers held off a late rally to defeat DePaul 65-52 on Monday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
Gibbs scored three baskets to help Pitt (11-2) surge to a 15-2 lead and the Panthers led by as many as 16 points at 30-14. DePaul (7-6), coming off a 64-61 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, was held to nine points in the opening 10 minutes.
Jermaine Dixon, the only returning starter from Pitt's 31-5 team of last season that reached an NCAA regional final, added 12 points.
Will Walker and Mac Koshwal scored 11 points each and Mario Stula had 10 as cold-shooting DePaul lost its fifth in seven games.
Pitt (11-2, 1-0 Big East) played its second game with a full roster after being without Gilbert Brown, its most experienced inside player, for 11 games due to an academic suspension and Dixon for eight games with a broken foot. At least for now, there's no problem with Pitt's defense.
The Panthers began the game ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense (56.3 points) and DePaul was No. 308 in scoring among the 347 major college teams with a 61.3 average—a bad matchup for the Blue Demons.
With leading scorer Walker slowed by an illness that kept him from starting—he averages 16.5 points, but had only two in the first half—the Blue Demons searched unsuccessfully the entire game for a reliable scorer.
They made several runs, getting to within 32-25 with 2:31 left in the first half and 54-49 on Walker's 3 with 5:35 to play, but Pitt answered each time in improving to 5-0 against DePaul in Big East play.
Pitt finished the game with an 11-3 run after DePaul got to within five points, with Gibbs and Brown each making two free throws, Gibbs adding a 3 and Dixon hitting a driving layup and a jumper from the left wing.
DePaul (7-6, 0-1 Big East) shot 34.5 percent (20 of 58) one game after Pitt limited Ohio to 23.9 percent shooting during a 74-49 victory. The Blue Demons were 4 of 15 from 3-point range.
Pitt won its 30th consecutive home game, second nationally to Kansas' 49-game winning streak.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon won his 174th game in seven seasons, tying him with Bob Timmons (1953-68) for the second most coaching victories at the school. H.C. "Doc" Carlson holds the school record with 367 victories from 1922-53.