Pittsburgh Syracuse couldn't have asked for a better start as it tried to become the first visiting team to win in successive seasons in Pitt's new arena. The Orange's biggest mistake was letting the game get away long before the finish.
Carl Krauser and Chevon Troutman led Pittsburgh's second consecutive comeback from a 17-point deficit against a ranked opponent, withstanding long scoreless stretches to drive the No. 20 Panthers to a 76-69 victory over fourth-ranked Syracuse on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh, rallying much as it did the previous Saturday in beating then-No. 16 Connecticut, 76-66, took command by holding Syracuse scoreless for 61/2 minutes during a 13-0 run midway through the second half.
The Orange (20-2, 7-1 Big East) opened a 22-5 lead by holding Pitt to two field goals in the first 10 minutes. Syracuse ended Pitt's 40-game home winning streak last season by becoming the first visiting team to win in the Petersen Events Center, which opened for the 2002-03 season.
"It didn't feel like we were down 17," Pitt's Levon Kendall said. "We made a lot of mental mistakes that gave them open shots, and we knew that if we played as well as we could, it wouldn't be a problem coming back. It wasn't anything to get worried about."
Apparently not. Krauser scored his 19 points in the second half after not scoring for nearly 23 minutes and Troutman, held scoreless for the first 141/2 minutes, had 18 points and nine rebounds for Pitt (14-3, 4-2). The Panthers outrebounded Syracuse 39-28.
Gerry McNamara scored 26 points, and Hakim Warrick had 25, but no other Syracuse player scored more than four.
No. 1 Illinois 89, Minnesota 66
Champaign, Ill. -- Roger Powell Jr. scored 21 points, and Deron Williams added 18, leading top-ranked Illinois. The Illini (21-0, 7-0 Big Ten) opened with a 10-1 run and stretched their conference winning streak to 17 games, tying a school record set from 1914-16. James Augustine had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Luther Head scored 10. The Golden Gophers (14-6, 4-3) were led by Vincent Grier, who scored 17 points.
No. 3 North Carolina 110, Virginia 76
Charlottesville, Va. -- North Carolina ended five years of frustration at Virginia, blowing out the Cavaliers from the opening tip. Jawad Williams scored 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting, Sean May had 20, and Raymond Felton 16 for the Tar Heels (17-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for only the fourth time in the last 11 meetings. J.R Reynolds led Virginia (10-8, 1-7) with 18 points.
No. 5 Wake Forest 94, Miami 82
Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Eric Williams had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and reserve Trent Strickland added a season-high 13 points, helping Wake Forest beat Miami despite getting only eight points from Chris Paul. Justin Gray finished with 20 points, and the Demon Deacons (17-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) cruised in the second half to improve to 10-0 at home less than 48 hours after a heartbreaking, overtime loss at Georgia Tech.
No. 7 Kentucky 68, Arkansas 67
Fayetteville, Ark. -- Kelenna Azubuike scored 13 points, Rajon Rondo added 12, and Patrick Sparks added a key basket with 24.2 seconds left, helping Kentucky hold off Arkansas. Eric Ferguson countered Sparks' shot with a three-pointer, pulling Arkansas within a point. The Wildcats' Chuck Hayes missed a free throw, and Ferguson got the rebound but missed a three-point try. Bobby Perry scored nine for the Wildcats (16-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference). Ronnie Brewer had 18 points for Arkansas (14-6, 2-5).
No. 8 Boston College 64, Georgetown 49
Boston -- Craig Smith had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Boston College shut out Georgetown for a 15-minute span in the first half to extend its record to 18-0. Jared Dudley scored 13 for BC (7-0 Big East), which is one victory short of the longest winning streak in school history -- 19 straight in 1968-69. The Eagles remain one of two unbeaten teams in the nation with top-ranked Illinois.
Washington State 70,
No. 11 Arizona 63
Tucson, Ariz. -- Thomas Kelati made a career-high seven three-pointers, the last one with 50.4 seconds to play, and Washington State stunned Arizona, ending a 38-game losing streak against the Wildcats. Washington State (9-9, 4-5 Pac-10) last beat coach Lute Olson's Wildcats on Jan. 30, 1986, 65-63 in overtime in Pullman. WSU broke a 20-game losing streak in Tucson and defeated a ranked opponent for the first time in 49 tries, giving coach Dick Bennett his biggest upset in two seasons with the Cougars.
No. 12 Louisville 105,
New Orleans -- Francisco Garcia had 21 points, and five other Louisville players also scored in double figures, leading the Cardinals to a rout. The Cardinals (18-3, 6-2 Conference USA) never trailed.
No. 15 Michigan State 92, Oakland, Mich. 75
East Lansing, Mich. -- Maurice Ager scored 22 points, and Michigan State pulled away in the second half to beat Oakland (Mich.) in its final tuneup for Tuesday's Big Ten showdown with top-ranked Illinois. Shannon Brown, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert each had 13 points for the Spartans (14-3).
No. 18 Wisconsin 76,
Penn State 50
State College, Pa. -- Kammron Taylor scored 20 points to lead Wisconsin. With leading scorer Alando Tucker out of the lineup because of a right foot injury, Taylor carried the load, shooting 7-for-14 and finishing one point short of his career high for the Badgers (14-4, 5-2 Big Ten).
No. 21 Cincinnati 87, Houston 68
Cincinnati -- James White scored a career-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds to lead Cincinnati over Houston. Jason Maxiell also had 10 rebounds, 14 points and eight blocks, helping the Bearcats (17-3, 6-1 Conference USA) roll to their 10th straight victory over Houston (12-9, 3-4).
No. 23 Iowa 72, Indiana 57
Iowa City, Iowa -- Pierre Pierce, one of four Iowa starters benched at the beginning of the game, scored 25 points to lead the Hawkeyes past Indiana. Because of a lackluster performance in an overtime loss at Northwestern on Wednesday, Iowa coach Steve Alford started four reserves instead of Pierce, Jeff Horner, Erek Hansen and Greg Brunner. The decision paid off. The Hawkeyes (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten) were aggressive on defense, protected the ball and shot 65 percent from the free-throw line. Freshman D.J. White led the Hoosiers (9-9, 4-3) with 23 points.
No. 24 Mississippi State 62
Baton Rouge, La. -- Brandon Bass had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the Tigers held Lawrence Roberts, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer and rebounder, to 15 points and 12 rebounds. Roberts entered the game averaging 18.8 points a game. Mississippi State (16-5, 4-3), which once had the nation's longest road winning streak at 16 straight, has lost three straight away from Starkville, Miss.