Levance Fields Starts

Pitt senior point guard Levance Fields believed was destined to play in the season-opening game against Fairleigh Dickinson about three weeks ago, but Panthers coach Jamie Dixon didn't know it for sure until Thursday.

Levance Fields returned against the Knights and guided Pittsburgh to an 86-63 win Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.

"I could've played in the exhibition, but there was no need to rush me back in there,'' Fields said. "So, I just kept getting as much practice time as possible. I just have to keep getting back into shape, and I'm getting better every day. ... I think I can play pretty much the way I did before I got hurt, so that's a good thing. But I'll keep working at it.''

Fields played 25 minutes, around what Dixon had planned for him, and tallied 15 points and eight assists with no turnovers.

"I had an idea (Thursday) that he would start and felt good that he would be ready to go,'' Dixon said. "It's been 11 months with limited or no activity, so he feels good. But he has a ways to go to get in game shape.''

Fields, who played with a couple inserts in his sneaker to keep his foot stable said he has been practicing with full contact for about two weeks.

"I've been feeling better and better,'' Fields said, "and I wanted to wait for the opening game. ... I'll probably take a day off here and there in the beginning, but it depends how I feel. My foot feels a lot better than last year, but I'm going to keep rehabbing it and working hard to get back in shape.''

Despite his inactivity and apparent poor conditioning, Fields did not appear to be off his game. He made 4 of 6 shots, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range, and was sharp with his passes. He also swept the ball around a defender, basically passing it to himself.

"That was an accident,'' sophomore center DeJuan Blair said. "It looked like he had a string on that ball, and he's always been back to me. When he gets in shape and everybody else gets together, it's going to get ugly for a lot of teams.''

If the opener was any indication, it shouldn't take long for the Panthers to get to that point.

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