Pitt's size, depth too much for RMU
Senior guard Maurice Carter tried his best to shoot Robert Morris to an upset victory over Pitt on Wednesday, but in the end, all he could do was sigh and admit the truth.
"They're big, and they wear you down," Carter said. "I think, with that size, they'll wear any team down."
Chris Taft was the prime example of Pitt's physical dominance, notching game-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds, as the Panthers posted up (frequently) for an 83-59 victory over hot-shooting RMU.
Taft's point total was just three short of his career-high, set last March against Providence. Easily the tallest player on the court, the 6-foot-10 sophomore center grabbed six offensive rebounds and shot 7 of 13 from the field, as Pitt outscored the Colonials in the paint, 36-16.
"I told myself I was going to try to be real aggressive and post up hard," Taft said.
Junior guard Carl Krauser added 18 points, five assists and five steals for the 16th-ranked Panthers (2-0), who have won all 24 meetings in the series and are 60-0 all-time against the Northeast Conference.
Robert Morris (1-3) threatened the field-goal percentage record for an opponent at the Pete (51 percent) before going cold late and finishing at 47.8 percent.
Carter scored 17 points and had his team thinking big early on. The Colonials led for most of the first half, as Carter made four of his five 3-point attempts. RMU made 7 of 11 in the half, including five in a row.
"We were getting open looks," Carter said.
Taft began to assert himself late in the half. He scored seven consecutive points after RMU's Mark Anderson converted a 3-point play to give his team a 25-21 lead.
"Taft is just really, really big -- physically superior to what we have," said RMU coach Mark Schmidt. "I think they're as good or better than they were last year."
Pitt finished the first half on a 15-0 run to take a 41-30 lead. It grabbed the lead for good -- 31-30 -- on Mark McCarroll's free throw, and Antonio Graves then made a slashing, up-and-under drive along the baseline that drew a roar from the crowd of 9,313 at Petersen Events Center.
The Colonials, who got 18 points from Anderson and 14 from senior forward Chaz McCrommon, kept battling. Early in the second half, they cut the deficit to 42-36, forcing Pitt to call a timeout.
The teams then traded baskets until Pitt used back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Ronald Ramon and Graves to take a 58-46 lead.
The lead only grew from there.
Pitt attempted 26 foul shots (and made 16), while RMU shot just five.
With 57.2 seconds left in the first half, Graves slapped the ball out of Carter's hands after the whistle, prompting Carter to shove Graves.
Carter was assessed a technical foul and was booed every time he touched the ball thereafter.
"I can't say if it was the right call," Carter said.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon used the same starting lineup for the second consecutive game -- Krauser and Ramon in the backcourt, with Yuri Demetris on the wing and Chevon Troutman and Taft up front.
Freshman John DeGroat was the first sub, followed by 7-foot center Aaron Gray, Graves and McCarroll.
Notes: Pitt freshman guard Keith Benjamin, who played 18 minutes in the opener, played only two last night. ... Pitt has won 17 consecutive games against non-conference opponents, dating to Dec. 31, 2002, when it lost at Georgia. ... Pitt is 37-1 at the Petersen Events Center.