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Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 12:57 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(15) Pittsburgh 86, Providence 66

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Chris Taft and Carl Krauser made sure Pittsburgh wouldn't need a big comeback against Providence.

Taft scored a career-high 25 points and added 15 rebounds and Krauser had 19 points and nine assists as No. 15 Pittsburgh rolled to an 86-66 Big East Conference victory over Providence, which dropped to 0-7 in league play for the first time in school history.

In its last two games, at Connecticut and vs. Syracuse, Pittsburgh (15-3, 5-2 Big East) fell behind by 17 points in the first half before rallying to win. But the Panthers never trailed in this one.

After Providence's Herbert Hill scored to tie the game, 15-15, with 11 minutes to play in the first half, Krauser hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers the lead for good.

"We got off to a good start early, executed throughout and did a good job playing 40 minutes ahead," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's a game of runs and teams coming back. That often happens in Big East basketball, but our guys were pretty solid throughout."

Taft, whose previous career high of 24 points came against the Friars last season, converted all four of his shots in the first half and finished 11-of-16.

"I think Chris has played well," Dixon said. "I think his defense is continuing to improve this year. Today he did a great job on the boards."

Krauser scored 10 points and hit both of his 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes as Pittsburgh took a 43-34 lead into the break. He opened the second half with a 3-pointer and Providence (9-11, 0-7) never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Krauser, who had 34 turnovers in his first six league outings, had just one in this game.

"He's played well throughout (the season)," Dixon said of Krauser. "He's continuing to improve over the last few games; his numbers and his turnovers have been better. I think that's just a combination of him making the decisions and guys being in the right place. He played better tonight as far as making decisions."

Taft scored 15 points in the last 11 1/2 minutes as the Panthers pulled away.

"Our big guys lost the toughness battle," Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "Taft really got up on the glass and got going. Someone told me last night at dinner that he hadn't been playing well. I said don't ever say that to me. That guy is a monster. He's a great player."

Pittsburgh shot 52 percent (30-of-58), held a 39-24 edge on the boards and 44-26 advantage in points in the paint.

"The problem tonight was rebounding," Welsh said. "They crushed us all night. Our front five had nine - that's what Taft had defensively."

Chevy Troutman added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Panthers, who improved to 45-3 over the last three years at the Petersen Events Center.

Ryan Gomes scored 24 points for the Friars, but shot just 7-of-20. Hill scored 12 and Donnie McGrath added 11 for Providence, which connected on only 6-of-21 from the arc.


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