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16-0 run in first half sparks Panthers

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pittsburgh star Chris Taft needed only 22
minutes to do what few players will accomplish in a full game
against Robert Morris this season.

Taft and Chevon Troutman led a 16-0 run during the final six
minutes of the first half that rallied the Panthers (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) from a
sluggish start to an 83-59 victory over their city rival Wednesday
night.

Taft finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, while point
guard Carl Krauser scored 18 and Troutman had 10 points, five
steals and five rebounds. Krauser, held to five points in an
opening-game 81-55 victory over Howard, also had five assists and
five steals.

Troutman, at 6-foot-7 the second-tallest player on the court to
the 6-10 Taft, keyed the run with four steals in just over three
minutes, leading to three baskets.

But it was Taft, last season's Big East rookie of the year, who
most impressed the Colonials (1-3). They aren't likely to see a
player with his ability in the Northeast Conference.

"Obviously, we don't have anybody who can match up with a guy
like that," Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt said. "He's a tough
player, one of the best in the country. You can only hope to deny
him the ball, but it's probably not going to happen for 40
minutes."

Or even 22 minutes.

"He's going to be a first-round draft pick in the NBA,"
Schmidt said.

After Pittsburgh (2-0) began to pull away, the Colonials seemed
to back off whenever Taft got the ball. Taft had six of his nine
rebounds on the offensive end.

"If they're grown men and they're intimidated, that's crazy,"
Taft said. "I just told myself to be aggressive and go for the
ball. If it looks like they were intimidated, I guess they were."

Pittsburgh won its 42nd in a row at home against non-conference
opponents, despite a mostly uninspiring effort for much of the game
against an opponent that lost its previous two games to Ohio State
and Virginia by a combined 65 points.

"I told our guys that the NBA portion of our schedule is over
now," Schmidt said.

The Panthers are 24-0 against Robert Morris and 60-0 against
Northeast Conference teams.

The Colonials tried making a game of it, with Maurice Carter
hitting four of the seven 3-pointers that helped them open a 30-26
lead with 14 minutes gone. But they didn't score again until Derek
Coleman's jumper made it 42-32 with 19:40 left in the second half.

"You can't make tough shots for 40 minutes and that's how we
defend," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "When they were 7-of-8 from
3-point range, we told our kids to not panic and stick with your
stuff."

The Colonials got within six at 42-36, only to gradually wear
down in a game in which, at times, every Pitt player was taller
than opposing Robert Morris player. Pitt led 37-22 in rebounding
and had 11 steals to Robert Morris' three.

Carter scored 17 points, but only five after halftime. Mark
Anderson added 16 points and Chaz McCrommon 14 for the Colonials,
whose schedule finally begins to lighten with a Nov. 29 game
against Thiel.

Pittsburgh is 37-1 at home since opening the Petersen Events
Center two years ago, and 53-2 at home the last four seasons.