(5) Pittsburgh 82

(5-0, 1-0 away)

Penn State 60

(0-5, 0-2 home)

    1:00 PM ET, December 7, 2002

    Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pennsylvania

    1 2 T
    #5PITT 38 4482
    PSU 27 3360

    Zavackas buries winless Penn State with flurry of 3s

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- A couple of years ago, Pittsburgh (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) would have been in big trouble if star Brandin Knight was hurt and playing at less than peak level. Now it's only a minor inconvenience.

    Donatas Zavackas hit three unguarded 3-pointers early in the second half to give Pittsburgh a comfortable lead, and the No. 5 Panthers extended Penn State's worst start in 71 years with an 82-60 victory Saturday.

    Zavackas scored 20 points, becoming the first Pittsburgh player to reach that mark this season. Julius Page added 14 as the Panthers (5-0) cruised to their fifth consecutive easy victory.

    "He knows where to go to get open shots,'' Page said of Zavackas, who was 4-of-4 on 3-pointers and 6-of-7 overall. "If you leave him open and he starts making them, he'll make everything. It was his time to pick us up.''

    What Penn State coach Jerry Dunn couldn't figure out was how the 6-foot-8 Zavackas kept getting open.

    "There were times we didn't even have a hand up to bother him,'' Dunn said. "A couple of guys didn't respect his shot and that really hurt us. He's an X factor on that team, with guys like Page and (Jaron) Brown and Knight. You're so concerned about those guys, he goes unnoticed some times.''

    Penn State, which made the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament only two seasons ago, has been outscored by 102 points in starting 0-5 for the first time since 1931. The Nittany Lions have lost by 20 or more points in three of their losses. Only once have they kept the margin to single digits: a 79-70 loss to Clemson.

    Pittsburgh, which has beaten Penn State by a combined 52 points the last two seasons, quickly opened up a 12-5 lead and never was in trouble.

    Pitt went on a 9-2 run to go up 38-27 at halftime and was so in control that it didn't matter that Knight was scoreless until there was 14:26 remaining.

    Knight, a third-team All-American last season who is struggling with his shooting and a shoulder injury, was only 3-of-11 -- 0-for-6 from 3-point range -- while scoring seven points. But it hardly mattered as Pitt had five double-digit scorers, with Jaron Brown, Toree Morris and reserve Chevon Troutman scoring 10 each. All of Troutman's points came in the first half.

    Knight injured his right shoulder in practice Thursday -- an injury not disclosed until Saturday -- but still played 30 minutes. An MRI didn't reveal any serious damage, but coach Ben Howland said the shoulder was very sore.

    "He gutted it out,'' Howland said. "But he's a tough kid, a former (high school) football player.''

    Knight gets a week to rest as Pitt doesn't play again until Dec. 14 against Southeastern Louisiana. Its first challenging game at home is expected four days later against Ohio State.

    Zavackas, left open frequently early in the second half, scored nine of Pitt's first 15 points after halftime to push the lead to 53-36. Later, an 11-0 run made it 71-47.

    "I took advantage of the opportunities and made them,'' Zavackas said. Then, joking about often being overlooked on a team that has won 34 of its last 40 games, he said, "I like to think I'm a star -- maybe.''

    Penn State made him one for a day. DeForrest Riley said, "With Page and Knight, so you're so focused on them, he sneaks in there and starts hitting 3s. But we knew he could shoot it. We watched film on them and we watched him shoot it.''

    Pittsburgh was dominant inside in its first road game of the season, outrebounding Penn State 32-23, and was effective offensively even while missing shots. Of the Panthers' 15 baskets in the first half, 11 came on putbacks or layups. Pitt shot 52 percent overall.

    Sharif Chambliss led Penn State with 16 points, with Riley scoring 14 and Jan Jagla 12. The Lions turned it over 20 times, 13 in the second half.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2002-03 Season

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