PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sam Young had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Mike Cook added 14 points, leading slow-starting Pittsburgh to a 78-52 victory over Toledo on Saturday.

The No. 14 Panthers began taking control when DeJuan Blair came off the bench to lead an extended run that began late in the first half with a couple of dunks, a blocked shot and several rebounds that started fast breaks.

Pitt won its fourth in a row by at least a 26-point margin despite falling behind the slumping Rockets by 9-2, 12-4 and 17-10. Toledo lost its sixth in a row, five on the road, despite leading by as many as eight points.

Tyrone Kent scored 22 points for the Rockets (1-6), who finish a six-game road trip Tuesday at Houston.

Pitt is 7-0 for the sixth consecutive season, five under coach Jamie Dixon, but its schedule appears to be getting tougher as it plays five of its next seven on the road. The Panthers have yet to play a road game.

Blair, a 6-foot-8 inside player from Pittsburgh who was the school’s top recruit this season, was not in the starting lineup for the first time after attending a great grandparent’s funeral Saturday morning. He didn’t arrive at the Petersen Events Center until about an hour before game time.

Blair quickly began making a difference once he entered the game, getting five points and five rebounds in 9 minutes of playing time in the first half. Pitt scored seven of the final eight points before the break to take a 34-28 lead.

Blair ended with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists in 23 minutes. Despite being Pitt’s tallest starter, he leads the team with 16 steals.

Young and Blair combined to keep Pitt’s run going in the second half as Toledo – last season’s Mid-American Conference regular season champion – was held without a field goal for the first 61/2 minutes of the half, allowing Pitt to seize a 46-32 lead.

Young, who has jumped his scoring average by 11 points per game this season to 18, scored down low and hit a short-range jumper for Pitt’s first two baskets of the half. Blair followed with a tip-in and a rim-bending dunk followup of Levance Fields’ miss.

That jam brought by far the biggest reaction of the day from the quieter-than-normal student body that sits along one side of the court, and several Pitt players took a quick glance at the scoreboard replay to watch Blair’s jam even as Toledo brought the ball up court.

Pitt quickly added a fast-break basket by Cook and another dunk by Young, off Fields’ steal, to make it 46-32. Blair blocked Jonathan Amos’ shot as Pitt began to pull away.

The Panthers had an off shooting day, hitting 43.1 percent, but held Toledo to 34.5 percent (19-of-55), including 26.7 percent (8-of-30) in the second half.

AP-ES-12-01-07 1631EST


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