CHICAGO – Gilbert Brown scored 17 points and Ashton Gibbs added 13 to lead No. 5 Pittsburgh to an 80-50 victory over DePaul on Saturday.
With the exception of a brief lapse early in the second half, the Panthers (19-1, 7-0 Big East) cruised to their ninth straight win.
The troubles continued for DePaul (6-13, 0-7 Big East). The Blue Demons dropped their 20th straight game in the conference and have lost 43 of its last 44 Big East regular season games. Freshman Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 11 points.
After blowing out No. 3 Syracuse and a game looming with No. 16 Notre Dame on Monday, the Panthers did not get caught looking past DePaul.
Pittsburgh briefly trailed 14-12 midway through the first half, but Gibbs made a jumper and capped off a 7-0 run with a 3. The Panthers outscored the Blue Demons 9-2 in the final 2:32 of the first half to pull away.
Brown cleaned up a miss with a dunk. Later he made a 3 and Gary McGhee had a free throw to give Pittsburgh a 38-23 lead at the half. Brown started the second half with a 3 to give the Panthers a 41-23, their largest lead, but DePaul used a 12-1 run to get back in the game.
DePaul got back-to-back 3-pointers from Jeremiah Kelly and Mike Stovall and Mike Bizoukas forced Travon Woodall into a turnover to set up Stovall for a layup to get the Blue Demons within 42-35.
The Panthers took control for good behind its 3-point shooting. Lamar Patterson buried a 3 to increase the lead to 52-38 and Gibbs made back-to-back 3's to give Pittsburgh a 61-50 lead with 7:11 left, capping off an 18-3 run.
Its been a tough run for first-year DePaul coach Oliver Purnell, he watched his team get beat by 20 against Connecticut last week and then suffered a 30-point loss to Marquette on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh shot 53.8 percent in the first half. Brown led Pittsburgh with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Melvin scored seven points for DePaul.
Brad Wanamaker added nine points and nine assists for the Panthers.