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James Robinson scores 23 points as Pittsburgh tops Duquesne 76-62 in City Game

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PITTSBURGH — Three years in and Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon still has to convince James Robinson it's OK to shoot.

The message, it seems, is finally starting to sink in.

The junior point guard poured in a career-high 23 points in a 76-62 win over Duquesne in the 83rd City Game on Friday night. Three days after being held to a single basket in a loss at Indiana, Robinson let it fly 14 times and drilled a key 3-pointer in the final minutes after the Dukes had trimmed a 15-point deficit to six.

"I just took open shots really," Robinson said. "Made my first couple shots and I felt good and my teammates did a really good job finding me."

Robinson responded to his dismal performance against the Hoosiers by leading the Panthers (5-3) to their 14th straight victory over their crosstown rivals. Josh Newkirk added 16 points and Chris Jones scored 12, including a couple of pull-up jumpers late in the second half to turn back one last surge by the Dukes.

Jordan Stevens and TySean Powell had 15 points each for the Dukes, while Derrick Colter added 13 but Duquesne (3-2) looked shaky early and struggled to keep up with the bigger, more experienced Panthers.

The two schools are separated by just three miles geographically, though Pitt has done its best to make the series little more than another nonconference tuneup. The Panthers have dominated Dukes for the last decade-plus, with 12 of their 14 straight wins coming by at least 10 points.

Pitt is hardly a finished product. The Panthers have struggled at times on both ends of the floor and appeared vulnerable for the first time in awhile in a game that dates back to 1932.

The Dukes, however, couldn't take advantage. Coach Jim Ferry wondered before the game if his team was tough enough to hang inside. Not quite. Pitt outrebounded Duquesne 44-37, blocked five shots and held the Dukes to just 37 percent shooting.

"Highly disappointed in the way we played tonight," Ferry said. "I'm highly disappointed in our effort on the glass. Very disappointed on the toughness side of the basketball. When plays needed to be made, Pitt made them."

Duquesne entered leading the country in 3-point shooting, making 49 percent of its 3s. The Dukes made just 7 of 22 on Friday, most of them in the second half as they tried to climb out of a sizable hole.

PHOTO: Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon signals his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 76-62. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon signals his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 76-62. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Little-used junior center Joseph Uchebo gave Pitt a spark early. Banging his way to the basket with ease while Duquesne focused on Pitt sophomore forward Mike Young, Uchebo finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, both career-highs.

"I had to stay strong," Uchebo said. "When they're coming down (on defense) their coach would tell them to go at me because they know I have a problem with my knee. I have to stay strong for that."

PIVOTAL MOMENT

Pitt led 54-39 early in the second half before Duquesne rallied. Colter hit a 3-pointer during a 13-4 run to get the Dukes within 58-52. Jones hit a pullup jumper to make it 60-52, Robinson followed with two free throws and after another brief flurry ended with Newkirk popping a 3-pointer to push it to 68-58 Pitt was in firm control for good.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT:

"We thought he was a mid-range shooter. He changed the whole script on us."

Colter on Robinson, who came in just 4 of 18 on 3-pointers this season.

TIP-INS

DUQUESNE: The Dukes played just their fifth game of the season on Friday night, a scheduling quirk that Ferry tried to rectify by having his team play a full game-like scrimmage on Tuesday. Ferry joked the only thing he learned from the scrimmage is that his assistant coaches were bad officials.

PITT: Senior guard Cam Wright made his season debut after missing the first month with a foot injury. Wright's appearance was brief. The leading returning scorer, who wasn't cleared for full practice until Thursday, missed a pair of shots in a one disjointed minute of action in the first half and did not return.

UP NEXT

Duquesne travels to Penn State next Wednesday.

Pitt hosts St. Bonaventure next Saturday

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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