STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Pittsburgh found itself in a relatively close game for the first time all season. Point guard Carl Krauser made certain it didn't stay that way for long.
Krauser scored a career-high 28 points and Pittsburgh (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) held off Penn State flurries in each half for an 84-71 victory Saturday and the Panthers' third 7-0 start in as many seasons.Pitt beat Penn State (5-4) for a fourth consecutive season in an intrastate series that has continued despite an interruption in their long-competitive football rivalry. But this one wasn't as one-sided as the previous three seasons, when Pitt won by an average of 28 points.Chevon Troutman and Antonio Graves scored 18 points each for Pittsburgh, which won its first six by an average of 26.5 points. The Panthers trailed 30-29 late in the first half after leading 13-2 and needed a Krauser-led 8-1 run with three backups on the floor to open a 60-47 lead after the Lions got it to 52-46."You say to yourself as a point guard, there's a certain point in the game where you can't let your team down or fail," Krauser said. "You have to do something to pick up your team and give a big emotional lift."Three quick 3-pointers by Penn State freshman Mike Walker to start the second half, two from well beyond the arc, got the crowd of 11,809 into the game but also seemed to motivate Krauser."I turned my head and saw him make a 3-pointer from yesterday," Krauser said.Shortly after that, Krauser scored on three consecutive Pittsburgh possessions, using his quickness to get free for driving layups down the lane or jumpers from the wing while scoring 17 points in the second half."He picked us up right there," Troutman said.From that point, Pitt -- coming off a 19-point victory over Memphis in a neutral-site game in New York -- kept double-digit leads most of the rest of the way in its first road game this season. Penn State made it 78-71 on two free throws by Walker -- his only points after his three quick 3s -- but Pitt scored the final six points in the last 1½ minutes."We didn't add on to it like we should have," Walker said of his burst. "We were right there, but we didn't make enough plays."Pitt never looked panicky or threatened even as Penn State refused to go away, a season after the Nittany Lions seemed intimidated while scoring only 11 points in the first half of a 64-37 loss in Pittsburgh."Sometimes we make a mistake or two, but to be a good team and be where we're at 7-0, we have to be able to play through runs and tough shots, and that's what our guys did," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.Krauser's previous career high was 26 points against Georgetown last season."I've never played anyone like that in my life," said Walker, a 6-foot-2, 180-lb. freshman from Harrisburg, Pa., who is four years younger and 20 lbs. lighter than the 23-year-old Krauser. "He's so physical, he just did what he wanted to do."Aaron Johnson, Penn State's tallest starter at 6-9, had 17 points but was held to two rebounds. Walker and Travis Parker
scored 16 each and Marlon Smith had 13 for the Lions, who made 11-of-22 3-pointers to Pitt's 6-of-16. Walker was 4-of-9 and Parker 3-of-5 on 3s.Troutman scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half, but his five second-half points came in succession during a 32-second flurry that upped Pitt's lead to 75-61 with 5:13 remaining. Chris Taft added 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks for Pitt."We couldn't get a stop when we needed to get a stop," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "We always seemed to be a possession away from making it interesting. Pitt hasn't been in a very close game, and we wanted to keep it close and make it interesting and see how they would react."