PITTSBURGH -- Tray Woodall scored 14 points to lead No. 23 Pitt past South Florida 64-44 Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center. Reserve center Dante Taylor added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers (22-7, 10-6), who moved to within a half game of idle Notre Dame in the Big East Conference standings.
The Panthers still have an outside shot at landing one of the top four spots in the conference and securing a double bye at the Big East tournament. They also reached another milestone in their final season in the Big East, winning 10 conference games for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. No other team in the league has accomplished that feat.
For South Florida (10-17, 1-14), it was a 10th consecutive loss in a disappointing season that is ending badly. The past six losses have been by double digits.
Pitt, the top defensive team in the Big East, continued its impressive run. Wednesday's game was the 12th time in 29 games that its opponent failed to reach 50 points.
That the Panthers accomplished the feat Wednesday night should not have come as a surprise, though. South Florida, which came into the game 330th among 345 Division I team in scoring, failed to reach 50 points for the seventh time in conference play.
Pitt led 26-25 at halftime, but the Panthers quickly gained control of the contest early in the second half. They went on a 16-0 run and led 44-30 with 9:46 remaining after South Florida took a 30-28 lead four minutes into the second half.
South Florida went 8:31 without a basket before Victor Rudd dunked with 7:35 remaining. He was the only South Florida player to make a basket in the first 14 minutes of the second half.
South Florida got off to a good start by making 6 of its first 10 shots from the field. The Bulls led 14-6, but Pitt clamped down on defense and held them to one field goal over the next 9:11.
The Panthers picked it up on offense after a slow start. They scored 12 of the next 15 points and took their first lead when Dante Taylor grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 18-17 with 6:37 to go before halftime.
The Panthers went up 24-19, but South Florida scored six of the final eight points of the half, including a foul shot by Jawanza Poland with 34 seconds remaining after Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was called for a technical foul for arguing with an official.
Pitt shot 7-for-26 (27 percent) in the first half, but the Panthers had 11 offensive rebounds and scored nine second-chance points.
South Florida shot 9-for-24 (37.5 percent), but the Bulls made three 3-pointers, including one from Rudd, who led all scorers in the first half with nine points.
Taylor led Pitt with six first-half points.
NOTES -- Wednesday's contest was the final scheduled game in the series between the two schools because Pitt is moving to the ACC next season. The Panthers won six of nine games since the Bulls joined the Big East in 2006. ... If Pitt wins the final two games of the regular season against Villanova (at home) and DePaul (on the road), the Panthers will have seven more conference victories than last season for their biggest one-season turnaround since joining the league in 1982. The best previous turnaround was six when the Panthers went from seven wins to 13 from 2000-01 to 2001-02. ... Taylor scored in double figures for the first time in 19 games.