Pitt's Young shines against North Carolina A&T
Sam Young proved Saturday afternoon he can score even when he's nowhere near the rim.
The high-flying junior forward put together the best outside shooting night of his career in Pitt's 88-61 victory over North Carolina A&T at Petersen Events Center.
"That's something that I worked on," he said. "It's something I was waiting to happen."
Sparked by the long-range shooting, Young scored a career-high 24 points, one day after scoring a then-career high 22 against Houston Baptist.
Young went 4 for 6 from 3-point range, setting career-highs in both. He grabbed 11 rebounds for his third career double-double, and also recorded a career-high four steals.
Not to disappoint, he obliged the crowd of 9,034 with a soaring, breakaway dunk to cap a 16-0 Pitt run that turned a close game into a rout, 34-17, with 4:23 to play in the first half.
"That run kind of broke the game loose," North Carolina A&T coach Jerry Eaves said.
Pitt freshman center DeJuan Blair played only 15 minutes while in foul trouble, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds. Mike Cook had 13 points and five assists, and Levance Fields added seven points and five assists without a turnover.
Senior guard Steven Rush scored 13 points to lead North Carolina A&T (0-2).
No. 22 Pitt (2-0) will play Rick Majerus-coached Saint Louis (2-0) at 6 tonight for its third game in as many days.
Young's 3-pointers were some of the biggest baskets of the game.
With Pitt trailing, 12-8, Young hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to start the 16-0 run. He added another 3-pointer during the surge and made a buzzer-beating trey for a 44-23 halftime lead.
"They were leaving me open in transition, and they seemed to lose track of me," Young said. "I took advantage of it."
Young was a poor outside shooter his first two seasons at Pitt, going 4 of 21 from 3-point range as a freshman (19.0 percent) and 13 of 42 last season (31.0 percent).
Ninety minutes before tip-off yesterday, he was shooting by himself in a near-empty Petersen Events Center. The effort is paying off.
Young is shooting 69.0 percent (20 of 29) from the field this season.
"His shooting has improved dramatically," coach Jamie Dixon said. "But he works hard at it. That's half the battle."
One night after having its highest-scoring game in 12 seasons, Pitt came out sluggish against North Carolina A&T.
The Aggies led, 9-6, three minutes into the game and went up 12-8 on Ed Jones' layup with 16:10 to play in the first half.
With 12:30 play in the first half, Pitt still trailed, 14-13.
But Pitt held North Carolina A&T scoreless for a 6:25, and Young scored 15 points over the final 12:27 of the first half. Pitt led by at least 21 the entire second half.
Eaves, a former player and assistant coach at Louisville, believes Young will find scoring a lot tougher once the Big East schedule begins.
"If he continues to hit his perimeter shot, he will be a tough matchup," Eaves said. "But the Big East is competitive. Teams like Louisville, they have quite a few guys his size and his athletic ability that will be able to guard him out on the floor when he puts it on the floor. I don't think he's a huge matchup problem with the better teams in the Big East."
Eaves, the starting point guard on Louisville's 1980 national champion, said Fields is the key to Pitt's success.
"Fields is not a great shooter. But he gets in the gut, and he creates things for them," Eaves said. "If you have someone who can guard him and stay in front of him without a lot of help, to where people can stay closer to their shooters, I don't think they are the greatest pure shooters in the country. Just being honest with you."
Note : Freshman center Gary McGhee, a potential redshirt candidate, played four minutes for his first action of the season. He had no points and one rebound.