PITTSBURGH – Senior center Gary McGhee matched a career high with 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, sending No. 5 Pittsburgh to a 74-53 victory over struggling Seton Hall on Saturday night.
Despite missing two-thirds of its shots through the first 15 minutes, the Panthers (17-1, 5-0 Big East) cruised to a double-digit lead and maintained control the rest of the way. Playing before 9,236 at the Petersen Events Center, they won their seventh consecutive game and 19th in a row at home.
Pitt also matched its best start in Big East play, achieved three previous times in its 29-year conference history.
It was the fourth loss in five games for Seton Hall (8-10, 2-4), which has dropped six of eight overall.
Pitt, which has tied the sixth-best start in the program's 103 years, next plays host Monday to No. 4 Syracuse in a Big East battle for first place.
In a sloppy first half, the teams combined to miss 40 of 63 field goal attempts. The biggest cheer from the home crowd, most of which was watching television, came late in the half when the Pittsburgh Steelers converted a long pass to set up their winning touchdown in a 31-24 playoff victory over the Baltimore Ravens across town at Heinz Field.
The Panthers missed their first five shots and 11 of 14 while falling behind 7-6. Then the Pirates went even colder than Pitt, failing on five consecutive attempts while going 4:45 without a score.
Pitt ran off eight unanswered points in a 23-7 spurt that put the Panthers ahead to stay, 29-14. McGhee polished off that run with six of his 10 first-half points, nearly equaling his average of 6.9 per game.
Ashton Gibbs, Pitt's top scorer at 16.8 points per game, scored only his third basket of the game with about 7:30 left. Along with J.J. Moore's 3-pointer it extended the Panthers' advantage to 63-40. They grabbed their biggest lead on Talib Zanna's basket with a little more than a minute left at 74-49.
The Panthers shot close to 50 percent in the second half and finished at 41.7 overall. Gibbs, who went 3 for 13 from the floor, had eight points and Brad Wanamaker nine along with a game-high seven assists and seven rebounds.
Seton Hall big man Herb Pope, from nearby Aliquippa, was the game's top scorer with 15 points. He added 10 rebounds.