Apparently, Pittsburgh remembered what happened last season against the University at Buffalo and didn't want to relive the experience.
Using a suffocating defense that forced UB into 33.9 percent shooting and 25 turnovers, the 17th-ranked Panthers raced out to an 18-point lead seven minutes into the game, then coasted to a 92-45 blowout victory before 10,596 on Friday at the Petersen Events Center.
Pittsburgh (5-0) led by as many as 51 in the contest which was never in doubt. The Bulls (2-3) enter next week's game against Big 4 rival Canisius with back-to-back losses after falling to Niagara earlier in the week. UB finished 1-2 in its three games against Big East opponents with a victory over South Florida and losses to Connecticut and Pittsburgh.
Last season, Pittsburgh came into Alumni Arena ranked No. 2 in the country and walked out with a too-close-for-comfort 70-67 win that wasn't decided until the final seconds. On Friday, the Panthers put this one away early.
"It was very disappointing because we expected a lot, especially after what happened last season," said UB junior center Vadim Fedotov, who was the lone Bull in double figures with a career-high 13 points. "They came to our house and we wanted to take back what they took from us. It was the opposite of what we expected."
After UB took a 4-0 lead, Pittsburgh scored 22 consecutive points and led, 22-4, with 12:54 remaining in the first half.
The Panthers had a flair for the dramatic. It started when they tied the game at 4-4 on an alley-oop dunk from Levance Fields to Sam Young. Later they took a 33-14 lead when Fields hooked up with Gilbert Brown for another alley-oop. Then Brown soared baseline for a two-handed dunk with 1:51 left in the first half. The Panthers led by 28 at the half.
"As the game went on, instead of raising our energy we fell into their game plan," Fedotov said. "That should never happen and it shouldn't happen again."
The Bulls connected on only 4 of 19 from three-point range and were outrebounded, 42-29.
"We went up there last year and any time you go into someone's arena it's going to be different," said Pittsburgh's Keith Benjamin, who came off the bench to score 17 points in 19 minutes.
"They really came out and gave us a game, but this year we really came after it. We had no idea it was going to be that much of a blowout."
The Pittsburgh players talked before the game about last season's outcome -- and UB's win over South Florida -- and the message was unmistakable: Take the Bulls out of the game early.
"We didn't want it to be as close because they scheduled three teams in the Big East already and they beat one of them," said Young, whose 20 points and eight rebounds were both game highs. "We knew they could compete with a Big East team and they put Big East teams on the schedule for a reason and we didn't want them to make us an example."
UB coach Reggie Witherspoon said this is a more talented, quicker Pittsburgh team than he saw a year ago.
With Young, who played small forward last season, in the post and with two pure point guards in Fields (15 points, seven assists, five rebounds) and Ronald Ramon, the Panthers are more difficult to defend.
"This team is better because their ball handlers are good at shooting and making decisions," Witherspoon said. "They put the other people in such good positions on the floor that there's no stress on them. Plus, they are still big and physical."