PITTSBURGH – J.J. Moore scored 15 points, Dante Taylor added 14 points and eight rebounds as No. 15 Pittsburgh crushed St. Francis (Pa.) 71-47 on Tuesday night.
The Panthers (11-1) won their ninth straight by holding the Red Flash (3-8) to 35 percent shooting and continuing their dominance on the glass. Pitt came in leading the nation in rebounding margin — grabbing 12 more a game than the opponent — and added to those numbers by outrebounding St. Francis 42-21.
Anthony Ervin had 13 points and Stephon Whyatt added 10 for the Red Flash, who never recovered after Pitt reeled off the game's first 13 points
St. Francis came in shooting 48 percent from the field on the season but missed its first eight shots and quickly fell behind by 23 points before settling in.
The Red Flash shook off a rough November in which they went 0-6 — with five of the losses by eight points or less — to win three of their first four games this month.
Yet Pitt wasted little time improving to 29-0 all-time against the Red Flash.
The Panthers controlled things from the outset, despite a scoreboard malfunction that forced the public address announcer to call out the score after every basket.
It took a while for him to get around to saying "Red Flash."
Pitt remained patient while trying to figure out St. Francis' defense. Once the Panthers found a way to get inside, they never stopped. Pitt outscored St. Francis 44-16 in the paint, most of the points coming on dunks or layups courtesy of Taylor and Moore.
A tip-in by Taylor gave the Panthers a 13-0 lead before Scott Eatherton — who entered the game making 77 percent of his shots — hit a jumper to get St. Francis on the board more than 6 minutes into the game.
It did little to stop the deluge.
Taylor came up with a strip at halfcourt, and the 6-foot-9 forward raced down for a layup. Talib Zanna followed with a dunk and a 15-footer, Ashton Gibbs made a layup before Lamar Patterson came up with a steal and a dunk to make it 27-4.
Only then did St. Francis seem to calm down, but failed to make any sort of serious run at the Panthers, who are starting to round into form with the start of Big East play a week away.
The only hiccup came courtesy of Moore, who blew a wide-open one-handed dunk on a fast break — missing the basket entirely. He atoned later in the half, driving the baseline and throwing one down over Eatherton just before the halftime buzzer.
The slam and ensuing free throw gave Pitt a 39-21 lead and allowed coach Jamie Dixon to tinker with his lineup as the defending Big East regular season champions remained perfect in December.