PITTSBURGH (AP)—Pittsburgh avoided a letdown in a break from Big East play.
Sam Young had 23 points and DeJuan Blair 18 and No. 6 Pittsburgh beat Robert Morris 92-72 on Monday night.
Levance Fields added 12 points and 13 assists and Jermaine Dixon 15 points for the Panthers (20-2), who were playing their first game while not ranked in the top five since Nov. 22.
“You can’t look over any team,” said Fields, “but obviously this is a game where we were heavily favored to win. Some of these games are kind of trap games that are tough to play. But for the most part, I thought we did a good job of handling it and treating it like a Big East game.”
Pitt has won four of five since losing for the first time this season and falling from the No. 1 ranking it held for two weeks.
Jeremy Chappell had 19 points and added a team-high eight assists for the Colonials (15-8), who had a nine-game winning streak snapped.
Young is Pitt’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per game. But he had cooled recently, having scored at least that many only three times in his previous 11 games—including a season-low five against Notre Dame on Saturday. Monday, he shot 8-for-11 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Robert Morris, which has lost all 27 all-time meetings with Pittsburgh, was within 24-22 midway through the first half but the Panthers went on a 29-11 run before the break to take over the game. Pitt scored a season-high 53 first-half points and has scored 185 points the past two games.
“This is a good win for us against an NCAA tournament team,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “I think that’s a team who’s going to run away with its league, so I thought we did some very good things.”
The Colonials led with 13 minutes to play in the two team’s most recent meeting Nov. 29, 2006, but the Panthers won that one going away, too.
Rob Robinson had 15 points and Francisco Bateko 13 for Robert Morris, which shot 57 percent from the field but committed 19 turnovers and had only two offensive rebounds.
“They’re 10 deep and everybody can score,” Robinson said. “We’ve probably got, like, six or seven people who can score. That’s just the difference between the Big East and the (Northeast Conference).”
Pitt is 66-0 against teams from the Northeast Conference. Robert Morris, a school located in suburban Pittsburgh which is coached by former Panthers assistant Mike Rice, is in first place in that league.
“I thought we got in our own way and made mistakes to stop ourselves,” Rice said. “You can’t give top-(six) teams transition points like we did in the first half because they’re going to make enough great plays on their own.”
The Panthers completed their non-conference season 13-0, marking the third time in the program’s history they went undefeated outside of conference—all in the past six seasons.