Penn State 37

(3-2, 1-1 away)

(22) Pittsburgh 64

(6-0, 5-0 home)

    4:00 PM ET, December 6, 2003

    Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    1 2 T
    PSU 11 2637
    #22PITT 39 2564

    Nittany Lions trailed 39-11 at the half

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pitt football coach Walt Harris only wishes he had a defense like this.

    Julius Page and Jaron Brown helped Pittsburgh's basketball team hold Penn State to only two points in a 13-minute span of the first half and the 22nd-ranked Panthers breezed to a 64-37 victory Saturday.

    "I think we intimidated them a little bit," said freshman reserve Chris Taft, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. "It was the first time all season we've played real hard and with a lot of intensity in the first half."

    Penn State (3-2) didn't break double figures until 2:42 left in a first half in which it shot only 15.4 percent (4-of-26) and was 2-of-7 from the foul line. The Nittany Lions trailed 39-11 at halftime.

    "Eleven points in the first half? That was classic Pitt defense," Panthers guard Carl Krauser said. "That was the best."

    Krauser and Brown each scored 14 points in a balanced offense as Pittsburgh improved to 6-0 under first-year coach Jamie Dixon. The Panthers have won 26 in a row at home, one short of the school record, and are 36-1 in Pittsburgh over the last three seasons. They are 20-0 at home since the Petersen Events Center opened last season.

    Dixon is the first Pitt basketball coach to win his first six games. Doc Carlson, in 1922-23, and Paul Evans, in 1985-86, each started 5-1.

    Penn State's new coach, Ed DeChellis, said facing a nationally ranked rival on its home court would give the Lions an idea of how much they have progressed. He didn't like the answer, and neither did some family members.

    DeChellis, the former East Tennessee State coach, grew up near Pittsburgh and hustled to get tickets for his friends and relatives.

    "But I don't think they stayed for the whole game," DeChellis said. "I'm sure my mother is going to give me an earful tonight."

    The Lions, who won only seven games last season under Jerry Dunn, struggled against Pitt's smothering defense just to get shots, much less score. Pittsburgh started the game with a 12-2 run keyed by Toree Morris' six points, gave up DeForrest Riley-Smith's 3-pointer, then went on a 20-2 run that made it 32-7.

    "It was a total breakdown for us offensively and defensively," said DeChellis, whose team was held to about half its 70-point average. "We did some things that were out of character for us."

    The Lions, who shot 28 percent overall (14-of-50), haven't beaten a ranked team since upsetting North Carolina in the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament.

    "I think our guys did a good job of taking them out of their offense," Dixon said. "But I don't think I expected to hold them to 11 points in the first half."

    Harris, who watched with a group of prospective football recruits, no doubt admired Pitt's excellent defense. His own team had one of the nation's best offenses, but was troubled all season by a leaky defense.

    "We know we can win by playing defense," Brown said. "We can turn defense into offense even if we're not shooting well."

    Pitt was one of the nation's best defensive teams last season, allowing 60 points per game, and has shown no signs of letting up this season. The Panthers have allowed only 82 points in their last two games, beating city rival Duquesne 59-45 Wednesday.

    Taft said Pitt emphasized shutting down 7-footer Jan Jagla, who led Penn State with 11 points and seven rebounds but was held nine points below his average. Jagla looked overmatched when he ventured into the low post against the 6-10 Morris or 6-10 Taft.

    "We thought we could intimidate him ... we thought we could scare him a little bit, and our plan worked," Taft said.

    Riley-Smith added 10 points for Penn State. Julius Page had 11 points and eight rebounds for Pitt.

    Pitt was cold for much of the second half, scoring only 11 points in the first 13{ minutes, but it hardly mattered in a series that has seen the Panthers outscore the Lions by 85 points the last three seasons.

    Pittsburgh also was 6-0 last season under former coach Ben Howland.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

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