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Panthers pass first big test of season

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Wisconsin did exactly what it wanted to
against Pittsburgh by getting 7-foot center Aaron Gray in early
foul trouble and forcing the unbeaten Panthers to go relatively
deep on their very inexperienced bench.

The strategy may have been right, but the outcome was all wrong
for the 24th-ranked Badgers.

Carl Krauser scored 22 points and provided a steadying hand to a
mostly freshman Pittsburgh lineup, and the Panthers held off
Wisconsin 73-64 on Saturday in their first game this season against
a ranked opponent.

Krauser, a senior who planned to turn pro after last season but
changed his mind, led a 13-0 run midway through the first half that
gave the Panthers (11-0) an 18-10 lead. Krauser also scored on a
succession of key possessions in the second half whenever Wisconsin
(10-2) tried to make a charge.

Alando Tucker, Wisconsin's only returning starter, scored 25
points but no other Badger had more than nine points. The Badgers
shot 37.5 percent in the first half and 42.1 percent overall,
including 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Pitt shot 55.1 percent and
got 35 points from its bench to 16 for Wisconsin.

"Their bench players filled in great for their big guys and
played better than their starters," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

Three freshmen -- Sam Young, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs --
made major contributions to help Pittsburgh start 11-0 for the
second time in three seasons.

"Our young guys are the real deal," Krauser said. "They help
us win."

Young, a 6-6 reserve forward coming off a 16-point game against
Coppin State, had 16 points and five rebounds in Pitt's final
non-conference game before starting Big East play Wednesday against
Notre Dame.

Biggs, averaging 2.3 points coming in, played more than usual
because of Gray's foul problems and had eight points on 4-of-5
shooting. Fields had nine points as the three freshmen combined for
33 points on 13-of-19 shooting and added eight rebounds and five
assists.

"I felt like a freshman coming into the season, but I don't
anymore," said Fields, who plays the point so Krauser can slide
over to shooting guard.

Gray, averaging 12.3 points and 10.7 rebounds, was limited to
five points and five rebounds in 14 minutes.

"I had to come in and show I could handle myself inside with
their big guys. This game gave me a lot of confidence," Biggs
said.

This is Pitt's most inexperienced team since former coach Ben
Howland took over a reeling program in 1999. Under Howland and
Jamie Dixon, now in his third season, the Panthers won 98 games the
last four seasons with a mostly veteran cast.

"We had three freshmen out there most of the second half, and I
don't think many teams are doing that against this kind of
competition," Dixon said. "It's not to get ready to play in a
couple of years, they're going to be out there now. Through 11
games, they've improved significantly, especially on defense, and
you don't see that very often out of freshmen."

The Badgers, down by as many as 12 points in the second half,
cut it to 67-63 with 1:53 remaining but were outscored 6-1 the rest
of the way to end a six-game winning streak. John DeGroat scored
inside to make it 71-63 with 1:35 to play, and Fields added two
free throws to get Pitt's lead back to 10 with less than a minute
remaining.

The Badgers were trying to start a season 11-1 for the first
time since being 12-1 in 1998-99.

Brian Butch, coming off an 18-point, 10-rebound game against
Louisiana Tech, was held to nine points and five rebounds. Except
for Tucker, Wisconsin's starters were limited to a combined 23
points.

Pitt played a ranked opponent for the first time since losing to
Pacific 79-71 in its only game in last season's NCAA tournament.
The Panthers started 10-0 last season, but were upset at home by
Bucknell on New Year's weekend and went on to lose nine of their
final 19.

The Panthers have won 58 of their last 59 home non-conference
games, losing only to Bucknell, and are 37-1 at home against
non-conference opponents since the Petersen Events Center opened in
2002. They have won their last 10 against Big 10 teams.