PITTSBURGH (AP) -- DePaul learned on its first trip to Pittsburgh
for a Big East game that the Steelers aren't the only team in town
capable of playing a physical game in January.
Aaron Gray scored 20 points and Carl Krauser had 19 for
Pittsburgh (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 12 AP), which shook off a 13-point deficit to remain one of
three unbeatens in Division I with a 73-65 victory Thursday night.
"I expected this," said Krauser, a senior guard who announced
last spring he was turning pro but changed his mind. "This is what
I came back for. I told these guys that we wanted to be unbeaten
now, and then go one game at a time in the Big East."
Pitt, unranked as late as two weeks ago, is 13-0 for only the
fourth time in its 100-year basketball history to join No. 1 Duke
(15-0) and No. 2 Florida (15-0) as the only major unbeatens.
First-year DePaul coach Jerry Wainright praised Krauser
profusely when his Richmond team played in Pittsburgh several years
ago, so Krauser's strong play -- he had six assists and five
rebounds -- didn't surprise him.
What did catch Wainwright unprepared was how rough-and-tumble
Pitt was for a team that starts only one senior, and ended the game
with only one player having more than two fouls.
"Maybe I should give Coach Cowher and the Steelers a call and
see if we can play them a scrimmage while we're here," Wainwright
said, in a thinly veiled criticism of the officiating. "I wonder
if there would be as much hitting in that game."
Pitt went 20-of-28 at the free throw line to DePaul's 5-of-8,
and Wainwright appeared to question why there was such a big
"We're not good enough to be up by 13 on anybody," he said.
"After that, you have to earn some baskets and get to the free
throw line and we didn't do that."
Freshman guard Levance Fields, getting more playing time as Pitt
gets into its Big East schedule, scored six points during a pivotal
13-3 run midway through the second half that opened a 54-44 lead.
Fields began the run with two free throws to make it 43-41 and
later hit a driving layup and a runner from the lane to give Pitt
(13-0, 2-0) its first double-digit lead. Fields added 10 points in
Pitt's first game in eight days, or since his shaky 5-of-10 free
throw shooting down the stretch repeatedly kept Pitt from closing
out a 100-97, double-overtime win over Notre Dame on Jan. 4 after
Krauser fouled out.
Pitt was much better at the line against DePaul after going
44-of-70 in its previous two games.
Wilson Chandler had 15 points and seven rebounds for DePaul
(8-6, 1-2) before fouling out in the final minute. The Blue Demons
got it to 69-65 on Sammy Mejia's two free throws with 58 seconds
left before failing to score again. Mejia had 15 points and Draelon
Burns added 13.
Unlike the Notre Dame game, when Pitt got off to big leads and
then held off repeated rallies, it was DePaul that surged at the
start by opening a 21-8 lead over the rusty Panthers with 7½
The Blue Demons were helped by three early 3-pointers against
the Big East's worst 3-point defense, but Krauser and Gray teamed
to lead a 17-4 run that tied it at 25.
"We came out a little anxious and made some bad plays and we
were overdefending them," Gray said. "Once we calmed down, that
allowed us to get back in it and that got our confidence back and
we started rolling."
This is the second time in three seasons the Panthers are 13-0
under coach Jamie Dixon -- they started 18-0 during his first season
in 2003-04 -- but this strong start was unexpected given Pitt's
Field and another freshman, 6-foot-6 Sam Young (eight points,
four rebounds), have developed very quickly. And Gray is playing
more consistently than last year's starting center, Chris Taft, who
went to the NBA after his sophomore season.
The Panthers have benefited from a favorable schedule in which
they have left Pittsburgh only once, for a sloppily played victory
at South Carolina last month. The Panthers' next three are on the
road in a span of six days starting Sunday at Louisville, followed
by Rutgers and St. John's.
Pitt and DePaul played for only the second time and the first in