RSS Feeds

No. 23 Pittsburgh beats South Florida 64-44

Wednesday - 2/27/2013, 10:20pm  ET

South Florida coach Stan Heath signals to his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 64-44. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Struggling mightily on offense against what should have been an overmatched opponent, No. 23 Pittsburgh was finally turned loose.

For the first time in years, players said, coach Jamie Dixon allowed them to "freelance."

The result was a big second half and a 20-point win.

Tray Woodall scored 14 points and Pitt beat South Florida 64-44 on Wednesday night to hand the struggling Bulls their 10th consecutive loss.

Dante Taylor had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers (22-7, 10-6 Big East), who were trailing when they began a 16-0 run with Lamar Patterson's jumper 4:42 into the second half.

"Coach started giving us free range to go out and just play," Woodall said, complimenting Dixon's adjustment after Pitt shot 26.9 percent in the first half. "He wasn't calling out any plays -- it was, 'Just go out and play basketball.' Some guys have never probably heard that from him this year. Go out and play, not call any sets."

Pitt has won nine of 12, remaining in the middle of the race for a double-bye in next month's conference tournament.

J.J. Moore added nine points, and 10 players scored in all for the balanced Panthers.

Victor Rudd had 16 points to lead the Bulls, who have lost 14 of 15.

The Big East's leader in scoring defense, Pitt held South Florida (10-17, 1-14) to 31.9 percent shooting. The conference's worst scoring offense was held to 50 points or fewer for the eighth time in 15 Big East games. The Panthers have allowed 50 or fewer 10 times this season.

"Our team got off to a good start, but we just couldn't sustain it," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "We got it for about 28 minutes, close to 30 minutes -- and then it seemed like we had a hard time finishing plays and we just couldn't get anything going offensively."

The teams combined to shoot 32.6 percent (14 for 43) in the first half but went divergent directions in the second half. South Florida missed 10 of its first 11 shots after halftime; Pitt made seven of its first 10.

"I thought we had a great performance from 10 guys," Dixon said. "It wasn't our best game, but South Florida's patience hindered us in the first half. I thought we responded well in the second half."

After Patterson finished a fast break for the first points of the second half to give Pitt a 28-25 lead, South Florida went on a 5-0 run to take its final lead. The Panthers responded by scoring the next 16 points -- the first five field goals coming from five different players.

"It was just, 'Play basketball,'" Dixon said. "They were sets, but it was more of a freelance-type thing, getting the ball moved from one side to another. That was the emphasis. I just wanted them to play basketball.

"I don't know they felt confident in that initially, but they did see the results and then I think they felt better about it."

Pitt coasted the rest of the way to pull within 1
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.