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Page helps Panthers improve to 4-0 in the Big East

1/18/2003

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- At a critical time when many teams would have
panicked, No. 3 Pittsburgh merely shrugged its shoulders and won
again in its usual workmanlike way.

Julius Page scored 25 points and Chevy Troutman added 23 as
Pittsburgh went inside for its scoring after star Brandin Knight
was hurt in a 73-60 victory Saturday over (unranked ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) Syracuse.

Pitt, starting 14-1 for the second straight season, improved to
4-0 for the first time in 21 Big East seasons and ended Syracuse's
11-game winning streak. Pitt beat the Orangemen (11-2, 2-1) for the
fourth straight time.

Knight, a third-team All-American point guard, sat out for more
than seven minutes after getting a concussion during an accidental
collision with 7-footer Craig Forth early in the second half.

But rather than getting rattled with its playmaker and leader
gone, Pittsburgh built its lead from two points to 10 as Page hurt
the Orange from the outside and Troutman repeatedly got open
underneath for layups and putbacks. Troutman made 10 of 12 shots
off the bench and Page was 10-of-15, including 4-of-8 on
3-pointers.

"We've got so much depth, you can't say, 'If we stop Brandin
Knight, we're going to beat Pittsburgh,''' coach Ben Howland said.
"You're going to have to stop a lot of guys.''

Syracuse stopped some of them: Knight went scoreless on 0-of-6
shooting in 26 minutes, Jaron Brown went 2-of-11 for four points
and Ontario Lett, averaging 15.3 in Big East play, was held to six
points. It was Knight's first scoreless game since Feb. 3, 2001,
against Notre Dame.

"But we don't have a star, we do it as a team,'' Page said
after his first 20-point game this season. "Anybody on our team
can hurt you.''

Page scored 15 points in the first half. But Syracuse was unable
to bang bodies underneath with the more physical Panthers, so
Troutman took over in the second half with 17 points.

"We really don't have a go-to guy who's always going to score
20 points,'' Page said. "We look to get the ball to the open
guy.''

The key stretch came after Knight got hurt. Pitt, which trailed
by as many as seven points in the first half, scored 13 of the next
18 points to open a 50-40 lead.

With Brown holding Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony scoreless for
long stretches and limiting him to a manageable 14 points, the
Orangemen never made a late run. Anthony was averaging a Big
East-leading 23.5 points.

"He was a big challenge, and I like big challenges,'' Brown
said. "I think I did a good job because we won. We're a physical
team, and he wore down quicker than I thought he would.''

As usual, Pitt's No. 4-ranked defense was the difference,
holding Syracuse -- No. 5 in scoring -- nearly 26 points below its
season average. Four of Syracuse's five starters came into the game
averaging more than Pitt's leading scorer.

"They're physical and they know when to be physical. They ride
you a little bit, and they give you a push at the right times and
in the right places,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

"Some of it could be called, some of it isn't. It's a tough
team to referee -- they're like Georgetown used to be, they get away
with some, but that's just part of good team defense.''

The game marked the long-awaited debut of Syracuse freshman
point guard Billy Edelin, a much-recruited high school star who sat
out a season following sexual misconduct allegations and a 12-game
suspension this season for playing in non-sanctioned recreation
league games.

Edelin scored only two points, a putback with 12 seconds left
for the game's final points, in seven ineffective minutes. He
played four minutes in the first half -- a span in which Pitt
rallied from a 19-14 deficit for its first lead at 24-22 -- and
three minutes at the end.

"We've got to get Billy back and adjusted, and it's going to
take time, but I believe we have the potential to be a real good
team in the pretty near future,'' Boeheim said.

Gerry McNamara, a former Pennsylvania all-stater, led the Orange
with 19 points and Hakim Warrick had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Donatas Zavackas added 12 points as Pitt, normally a
guard-dominated team, got 45 of its 73 points from its frontcourt.

Pitt won its 17th straight home game dating to last season and
is 10-0 at the new Petersen Events Center.