Sunday , Jan , 07 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Panthers on the prowl against Bulls

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – The 10th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers are
among the favorites to contend for a Big East Conference crown this
season, and they are clearly favored in today’s league matchup with the
South Florida Bulls.

South Florida carried a modest two-game winning streak into Tuesday’s
matchup with UConn, another Big East favorite. That road tilt resulted in an
ugly 69-50 setback, and five of the last seven outings for the Bulls have now
resulted in defeat.

Pittsburgh began league play on a positive note, as it got past Syracuse on
the road by a 74-66 final on Thursday. That victory was the third straight for
the Panthers, who are now 13-2 overall, including 9-0 at home. The only two
defeats came against Wisconsin and Oklahoma State, two of the nation’s best

South Florida has beaten Pittsburgh in both previous meetings between the
teams, but they haven’t squared off since the Bulls joined the Big East.

South Florida actually shot the ball slightly better from the floor than UConn
on Tuesday and even finished with one more point from the foul line. Still,
the Bulls turned the ball over 17 times and were outrebounded by a 38-23
margin, including 16-4 on the offensive glass. Melvin Buckley tallied 17
points for South Florida, which got 13 points from McHugh Mattis and 12 points
from Kentrell Gransberry. The 50-point effort fell well short of the club’s
season average of 69.1 ppg. Four players average double figures in scoring for
the Bulls, and Buckley is tops with 16.9 ppg. Soloman Bozeman adds 13.6 ppg to
the mix, and he has dished out 70 assists to somewhat overshadow his poor
shooting. Gransberry (13.5 ppg) and McHugh Mattis (12.9 ppg) add balance to
the lineup.

Pittsburgh depends heavily on center Aaron Gray to be productive at the
offensive end each time out, and while Gray managed only nine points against
Syracuse, veteran guard Levance Fields picked up the slack with a career-high
24 points. Fields shot 9-of-15 from the floor and dished out five assists to
go along with four steals. Ronald Ramon added 12 points for the Panthers, who
overcame a disappointing 9-of-17 effort from the foul line by nailing nine
three-pointers. Gray is averaging team-highs of 15.2 ppg and 10.7 rpg, while
shooting 61.3 percent from the field. Mike Cook is posting 11.9 ppg, and
Antonio Graves checks in with 10.6 ppg. Pittsburgh is connecting on over 50
percent of its field goal attempts this season, while holding opponents below
40 percent.