November 12, 2006
No. 4 ranked Panthers coast in opener
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The University of Pittsburgh basketball team opened their season with an 86-67 win over Western Michigan. The game was played at West Point as a part of the Maggie Dixon Classic in honor of Coach Dixon's sister who passed away suddenly earlier this year.
Pitt went ahead for good when junior Mike Cook scored and a fastbreak and was fouled. Cook converted the three-point opportunity and Pitt led 12-9. Playing in his first regular season game since transferring from East Carolina the junior made an assortment of mid-range jumpers and baseline drives to lead all scorers in the first half with 13 points. Cook went on to lead Pitt in scoring with 17 points. He showed early that he is as advertised. It looks like Pitt has found a solid player at the No. 3 position.
Sophomore Levance Fields started at point guard and had 7 first half assist. Fields finished the game with 9 assists and only 2 turnovers.
Junior guard Ronald Ramon came off the bench and knocked down 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the first half to score 12 at the intermission. Ramon finished the game with 16 points. Ramon appears fully recovered from the off-season shoulder surgery.
Pitt led 47-22 at the half. The Panthers shot a sizzling 64% from the floor prior to intermission.
Coach Dixon allowed many of the younger players to play in the second half and Sam Young and Tyrell Biggs did most of the scoring. Pitt finished the game with five players in double digits. Sam Young had 12 points including a couple of his famous dunks but he also banked in a nifty jumper.
A slimmer Tyrell Biggs knock down several jumpers and had 11 points.
Pitt had a 50-30 lead early in the second half and coasted home from there.
Coach Dixon did not use freshman Austin Wallace nor Gilbert Brown. This leaves open the possibility that both players could be redshirted this year.
Last year Pitt finished their non-conference schedule 11-0. They are off to a 1-0 start this year.
Senior Aaron Gray had 10 points and 13 rebounds. This figures to be the first of many double-doubles by Aaron this year. Pitt went inside to Aaron early but with a lot of scoring options it was not necessary as the game went on.
Western Michigan has a young team with some talent on the perimeter. Their inside game was no match for the taller Panthers. Coach Dixon said after the game that he thought the Broncos would be very competitive in the MAC Conference this year.
Pitt's next game is Tuesday night at the Pete when the Panthers face Delaware State.
Ohio State played the Army's women's team in the second half of the double header.
Jim Snyder can be contacted at email@example.com.
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