January 23, 2005

(21) Pittsburgh 76, (16) Connecticut 66

STORRS, Conn. -- Chevon Troutman and Pittsburgh's rugged defense were more than Connecticut could handle.

In a matchup of Big East heavyweights, the No. 21 Panthers rallied from 17 points down to upset the 16th-ranked Huskies 76-66 before a raucous UConn crowd.

Troutman scored 25 of his career-high 29 points in the second half and the Panther defense did the rest, holding UConn to 27 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.

``We always dig oursevles a hole and we always come back,'' Troutman said. ``We haven't been getting the big plays down the stretch and we've been taking plays off down the stretch. Tonight is a night when we didn't take a play off down the stretch.''

Pitt and UConn had split six meetings over the last three seasons and played each other in the conference tournament final the past three seasons. It was the first win for the Panthers on UConn's homecourt in five tries.

The snowstorm that pounded the Northeast did little to deter UConn fans. Season-ticket holders who did not make the game donated about 3,000 tickets to students who helped fill the 10,000-seat Gampel Pavilion. And the crowd let the Panthers hear it from the opening tip.

But in the closing seconds they began quietly filing out in droves. Pitt guard Carl Krauser skipped over to the sidelines, grabbed his jersey and let the departing crowd know ``We're not going to lose. We're the beast of the East.''

Troutman was a beast in the second half. The 6-foot-7 power forward scored 10 straight points midway through the second half and gave the Panthers (13-3, 3-2 Big East) their first lead at 55-54 with 8:14 left -- and Pitt would never give it back.

``The guys did an unbelievable job getting it done,'' Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said.

The Huskies (11-4, 3-2) had a nine-point lead at the half but watched it dissolve because of poor shooting and the Panthers' tough post defense.

UConn went nearly nine minutes in the second half without a field goal, while Troutman went on his 10-0 run, built largely on inside baskets.

``We've lost four games this year and far and away this was the most disappointing,'' UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. ``We completely got taken out of our offense.''

It was a matchup of two of the best rebounding teams in the nations. UConn led the nation in rebounding margin (15.6) and the Panthers (10.6) were fifth coming into the game. The Huskies lived up to their billing in the first half, dominating inside even without star center Josh Boone, who was in early foul trouble.

Connecticut used runs of 9-0 and 8-0 in the first half to build a 17-point lead late in the period. They played solid both inside and out, riding the perimeter play of Rashad Anderson, who was 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the half. The Huskies led 43-32 at the half.

But the second half was all Pittsburgh. The Panthers outscored UConn 26-22 in the paint and came up with key blocks down the stretch. Troutman led Pittsburgh with 12 boards and had two of the Panthers' five blocks. Carl Krauser added 15 and Chris Taft had 10 for Pittsburgh.

Anderson led UConn with 19 points and Villanueva had 14 points and 10 boards.

``Troutman played a magnificent game,'' Calhoun said. ``They did what we could not do. They executed their offense, took their time, took the shots they wanted.''

College Basketball: Villanova Stuns No. 2 Kansas

Allan Ray poured in 27 points, including 20 in the second half, as Villanova crushed second-ranked and previously-unbeaten Kansas, 83-62, at the Wachovia Center.

Steelers at their best on the run

It's no shock that the 16-1 Steelers' return to prominence coincides with a renewed emphasis on the run that began with the start of training camp. "Historically, this team has been a running football team. The mentality has been that way," Bettis says.

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