Blair Dominates Okie State

Pitt freshman center DeJuan Blair sang the hit song "How Do You Like Me Now?'' as he entered the media room following the Panthers 85-68 win against Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.

After DeJuan Blair recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 8-for-10 shooting from the field for Pittsburgh, "not too much,'' probably was the response by Cowboys coach Sean Sutton and his players. Blair also had five blocked shots, two steals and just one turnover.

"They did as good a job on me as they could, but my teammates got me the ball and I did good things with it,'' Blair said. "I made some good plays.''

Okie State (5-4) defeated Pittsburgh (10-0) in a hard-fought game last season when 7-foot senior Aaron Gray manned the paint for the Panthers. But 6-5 junior guard Terrel Harris believed it was a lot tougher against Blair this year.

"They were both pretty tough, but (Blair) was a little more aggressive,'' Harris said. "He gets in there and loves that contact. He likes to get in there and rebound, get in there and push people around, and we ran into each other a couple times today.

"We laughed about it, but he's a very aggressive player. I don't think he's as skilled as Gray was last year, but he's just a freshman. So, he has time to work on that. As far as his athleticism and his strength, I think that's the difference between him and Gray.''

During one sequence early in the second half, Blair displayed his athleticism for all to see. He blocked a shot by junior guard Byron Eaton, who caught the block and attempted to put it back up. Blair blocked that as well and got the rebound.

"We've been watching film on him, and he likes to take it in on the big guys,'' Blair said. "That's what he tried to do, but he came into a brick wall. I just got two blocks, and they didn't call a foul. So, that was good, but ... we knew he was going to come in there. And I wasn't going to let him do that to me.''

Blair played 31 minutes against Oklahoma State, and that was about average for Pitt's starters. Junior Tyrell Biggs made 3 of 4 free throws and had three rebounds in 14 minutes as Blair's backup, but the 6-7, 265-pound Blair didn't appear to be winded at all in the waning minutes.

"They're not as big, so we wanted to get the ball inside early,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We had a couple turnovers early, so I was a little disappointed at that. But we recognized that and were able to get some penetration and finding him. Taking good shots and getting good offensive rebounding opportunities.

"DeJuan understands that it's going to come off of passes and the execution of our offense that's going to get him his best looks. But we did go into him and got a couple layups off of set plays early, so that was a good start for us.''

Sutton and Oklahoma State just didn't have an answer for Blair inside.

"Both our games had been physical with them in the past, so I just wanted to keep as many fresh bodies out there as possible,'' Sutton said. "But he's a tough kid and a very good player inside for Pitt.''

The Okie State coach also noted that he suspended 6-8 freshman center Martavius Adams for the Pitt game, but added that his presence probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway.

Marcus Dove, a 6-9 senior forward, tallied a team-best 17 points for the Cowboys. But he had just four at halftime and got most after the game was decided late in the second half

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