Scores

Final

Providence 68

(12-13, 5-9 Big East)

(9) Pittsburgh 81

(21-4, 10-4 Big East)

7:30 PM ET, February 25, 2006

Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 T
PROV 27 4168
#9PITT 41 4081

Top Performers

Providence: S. Curry 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl

Pittsburgh: A. Gray 17 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

No. 10 Pitt cruises past overmatched Providence

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Carl Krauser chuckled and flashed a big grin.

After a satisfying 81-68 win over Providence on Saturday night, Pittsburgh's (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) star guard could finally devote his full attention to Monday's crucial road game against rival West Virginia (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP).

"We can definitely think about West Virginia this Monday," Krauser said with a smile.

That contest could have postseason implications as the Panthers (21-4, 10-4) jostle with the Mountaineers and the Big East's other top teams for seeding in the upcoming conference tournament. Pittsburgh and West Virginia are tied for third in the Big East.

Beating the Friars helped the Panthers' confidence, especially after having been off for a week since their last game, an 84-82 loss to Marquette on Feb. 18.

"After you lose, you're always anxious to play," Krauser said. "Everything went a lot more smoother today."

Aaron Gray had 17 points and nine rebounds and reserve guards Antonio Graves and Levance Fields keyed a first-half run and the Panthers led by as many as 18 in the first half.

"The game really got out of hand early," Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "When you are digging like that against them early, you put yourself in a tough situation. It stunned us early."

The Friars got within 55-49 midway through the second half off Sharaud Curry's soft jumper off the glass.

But Krauser hit a 3-pointer and baseline layup to keep the lead at double digits. Graves hit an open 3 with a little more than 3 minutes left to extend the lead to 75-59, raising his right arm in the air as he ran back on defense.

Curry finished with 24 points while Geoff McDermott grabbed 14 rebounds for the Friars (12-13, 5-9). Leading scorer Donnie McGrath was held to seven points, eight below his season average, on 3-of-9 shooting.

Five Panthers, including Graves, took turns guarding McGrath.

"I don't remember him getting a lot of good looks," Panthers coach Jaime Dixon said.

Pitt built an early lead even with Gray, the Big East's leading rebounder, on the bench for much of the first half with two fouls.

It was the guys who came off the bench that gave Pitt a spark.

Fields hit a 3-pointer and two runners to help the Panthers open up a 19-10 lead. Graves hit two long jumpers before Gray returned with just under 6 minutes left and the Panthers leading by 11.

Gray was dominating when he was on the floor, shooting 7-of-10 from the field and blocking two shots.

"They're a bad matchup for anyone," Welsh said. "Gray is a bad matchup for everyone."

Fields finished with nine points, all in the first half, while Graves had a team-high 18.

"I'm always waiting for an opportunity to step up and do what Coach Dixon tells me to do," Graves said. "They can't double-team all of us."

Krauser, who had 14 points and five assists, was his typical energetic self and riled up the crowd. At one point in the first half, after drawing an offensive foul on Providence, Krauser ran toward the student section behind the basket, flashed a big smile and pumped his arms in the air.

To top it off, it was a throwback weekend at Pitt. The team won dark blue jerseys dating back to 1980 instead of their typical white home uniforms, and the school announced their "All-Centennial" team during the game in celebration of 100 years of basketball at the school.

Past standouts like Charles Smith and Jerome Lane, who played prominent roles in Pitt's basketball success in the 1980s, were named to the team.

Providence did have some success in the middle against Pitt's tough front line, getting 15 points from starting center Herbert Hill and 15 points and six boards from backup center Randall Hanke.

But the Friars couldn't capitalize on a chance to leapfrog struggling Louisville in the conference standings and stayed tied for 10th place. Only the top 12 teams in the 16-team league go to New York for the conference tournament.

"In order to beat [Pittsburgh], a lot of things have to go your way," Welsh said. "You have to make things go your way."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PROV
PITT
Points 68 81
FG Made-Attempted 26-63 (.413) 28-60 (.467)
3P Made-Attempted 5-18 (.278) 7-19 (.368)
FT Made-Attempted 11-22 (.500) 18-25 (.720)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 18 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 16

2005-06 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Feb 15, 2006 PITT 85, @PROV 77Recap
» Feb 25, 2006 @PITT 81, PROV 68Recap