Cincinnati 69

(16-9, 5-6 Big East)

(14) Pittsburgh 89

(19-3, 8-3 Big East)

2:00 PM ET, February 12, 2006

Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 T
CIN 33 3669
#14PITT 43 4689

Top Performers

Cincinnati: J. Muhammad 21 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

Pittsburgh: A. Gray 15 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

Pitt rips Cincinnati in their first Big East encounter

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Carl Krauser had 18 points and reserve Keith Benjamin scored a career-high 16 as Pittsburgh (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) beat Cincinnati 89-69 in the first Big East meeting between the schools.

Cincinnati (16-9, 5-6) got a game-high 21 points from Jihad Muhammad and 15 from forward Eric Hicks, but little else as Pittsburgh (19-3, 8-3) never trailed and won its 15th straight at home.

Muhammad, a 5-11 senior guard who became a starter just five games ago, has averaged 17.3 points the last three, shooting 12-for-24 on 3-pointers. However, he struggled early as Pitt jumped out to a 19-7 lead, with Hicks accounting for all of Cincinnati's points.

Hicks scored just eight points the rest of the way, and the Big East's third-leading rebounder (at 9.7 per game) was no match for Pitt's Aaron Gray. Gray leads the conference (11.0 per game) and had 10 rebounds -- all on defense. Hicks had just four rebounds.

Gray finished with 15 points for his Big East-leading 13th double-double, and was the primary reason Pitt controlled the boards 43-25.

"He's a huge man," Cincinnati coach Andy Kennedy said of Gray, a 7-foot, 270-pound junior. "He's really big and he's got good touch ... and we're trying to defend him with guys five to six inches shorter than him."

Gray shot 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-6 from the free-throw line.

However, it was really the play of Pitt's guards, sophomores Benjamin and Ronald Ramon, and Krauser -- once he got untracked -- that paced Pitt.

Pitt led 43-33 at the half and Cincinnati managed to close to 48-42 early in the second half, but that was as close as the Bearcats would get. After forcing a Pitt turnover, but failing to score on its next possession, Cincinnati watched as Benjamin hit a key 3 to give Pitt a 51-42 lead.

Benjamin hit another 3 from the baseline as the shot clock expired to increase Pitt's lead to 54-42 with 14:00 left. That was one of four or five instances where Kennedy said Cincinnati's defense played tough -- only to see Pitt make a key shot or rebound.

"Those are huge swings in a game that I though deflated our guys," Kennedy said.

Despite being outmanned, Cincinnati kept Pitt's lead hovering around 10 points for much of the second half until Ramon, who finished with 14 points, was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws to give Pitt a 71-58 lead with 6:37 left and Cincinnati didn't make another serious run.

Krauser, who had just 3 points in the first half -- all free throws -- and shot 0-for-6 from the field, was 6-for-8 in the second half and added three more free throws.

After Benjamin's back-to-back 3s, Krauser made two key lay-ups, including a spectacular reverse off a baseline drive, that capped a 9-0 run that gave Pitt complete control of the game, 77-58, with 5:05 left.

The only thing Krauser didn't do was hit 3s. He left that to Ramon, who finished the day 3-for-4 beyond the arc. Benjamin was 3-for-3 on 3s. Pitt made 7 of 17 3s, while Cincinnati went just 4-for-17, with Muhammad going 3-for-8.

"Muhammad is a very good player and he was again tonight," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "He can play off the dribble and he can shoot. We did a pretty good job (defensively), except for him."

Cincinnati won six of the previous seven matchups, but the schools hadn't played since the Bearcats beat Pitt 61-60 in Cincinnati on Dec. 19, 1979.

The Bearcats were the Panthers' first unranked opponent since they beat Marquette 77-71 on Jan. 28. Since then, Pitt lost to No. 1 Connecticut and No. 17 Georgetown on the road, and beat No. 9 West Virginia 57-53 on Thursday while holding the Mountaineers' Kevin Pittsnogle scoreless for the first time this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 69 89
FG Made-Attempted 27-64 (.422) 32-57 (.561)
3P Made-Attempted 4-19 (.211) 7-17 (.412)
FT Made-Attempted 11-13 (.846) 18-28 (.643)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 22

2005-06 Season

» Feb 12, 2006 @PITT 89, CIN 69Recap