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Pitt's Adams, Robinson so-so in Big East debut

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 10:30 p.m.
Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick scores past Pitt's Steven Adams in the second half Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at Petersen Events Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

The Big East debut of Pitt freshmen Steven Adams and James Robinson was much like the outcome, a mixed bag of results that saw promise early and struggles late.

Adams, the 7-foot center from New Zealand, had a game-high nine rebounds but was held scoreless and encountered foul trouble in Pitt's 70-61 loss to No. 8 Cincinnati on Monday at Petersen Events Center.

Robinson, the 6-foot-3 point guard from Maryland's DeMatha Catholic, scored seven points in 27 minutes but dealt with foul trouble and free-throw woes.

“We instilled in the younger guys that, obviously, the competition is going to be a lot better,” Pitt fifth-year senior guard Tray Woodall said. “It definitely prepares them for the rest of the season.”

Neither Adams nor Robinson were made available for interviews.

That didn't stop Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin from raving about their play against the Bearcats.

Robinson made 2 of 6 shots from the floor but only 3 of 6 free throws. More importantly, he handled Cincinnati's full-court pressure like a pro, finishing with two assists and one turnover against an experienced Bearcats backcourt.

“James Robinson plays like he's 30,” Cronin said. “I say that as a compliment. Very poised. To play a game against us and have only one turnover, the way we come at you. ...”

Adams, meanwhile, never attempted a shot. Not that Pitt coach Jamie Dixon planned it that way.

“I thought he did some good things,” Dixon said. “We ran a lot of sets to get him the ball, but we didn't execute well enough.”

Adams, however, dominated the boards in his 24 minutes, grabbing eight in the first half alone.

“He's a big, strong guy,” Cronin said. “His offense, I'm sure, will develop in time. We struggled to box him out.”

Although Adams didn't make any scoring contributions, his absence was felt after he picked up his third and fourth personal fouls in a 32-second span midway through the second half. Cincinnati turned a 47-43 lead into a 58-53 advantage before Adams returned.

“I think both of those guys played tough, how we wanted them to play,” Woodall said. “As a team, we didn't have a great game. The best is yet to come for both of those guys.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kgorman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7812.

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