Jan. 3, 2010
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GAME 15: PITT (12-2, 2-0 Big East) at CINCINNATI (10-3, 2-0 Big East)
Monday, January 4, 2010 7 p.m. ET
Fifth Third Arena (13,176) Cincinnati, Ohio
Television: ESPN Big Monday (Dave O'Brien, Bill Raftery, Jay Bilas; Producer: Jonathan Labovich).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 90 (Pitt feed); 91 (UC feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (175-47); Cincinnati: Mick Cronin, 4th year at UC (55-55), 7th year overall (121-79).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-NR; ESPN-NR; Cincinnati: AP-NR; ESPN-NR (as of Dec. 28, 2009).
Series: Pitt and Cincinnati meet for the 14th time with UC holding a 7-6 advantage. Pitt has won three straight matchups and five of the last six. The last time Pitt played at UC, the Bearcats claimed a 62-59 decision on Jan. 19, 2008. Pitt is 22-8 vs. Big East schools added in 2005-06.
CINCINNATI, Ohio--Pitt (12-2, 2-0 Big East) plays its third Big East Conference regular season game and second of three straight road contests when it travels to Cincinnati (10-3, 2-0 Big East) for a Monday, Jan. 4 contest. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena.
The "Big Monday" contest will be televised on ESPN with Dave O'Brien (play-by-play), Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas making the call. Jonathan Labovich will handle production.
Pitt is currently on a five-game win streak and has won eight of its last nine contests. Pitt is in the midst of its most difficult schedule stretch in years when it will play three straight road games along with three of its next five opponents who are ranked among the nation's top-25: No. 5 Syracuse (defeated 82-72), No. 10 Connecticut and No. 13 Georgetown. Additionally, Pitt will play at upstart Cincinnati and host Louisville.
Pitt is 2-0 in Big East play after winning its fourth straight game at Syracuse on Saturday, 82-72. The game featured the Big East's best defensive team (Pitt) and the league's best offensive team (Syracuse). Pitt scored a season-high 82 points and limited Syracuse to 15 points below its season average in registering the victory. Pitt outscored SU 55-42 in the second half alone. Sophomore Ashton Gibbs scored a game-high 24 points on 6-9 3-point shooting, Jermaine Dixon registered a career-high 21 points (3-8 3FG), Brad Wanamaker contributed 12 points (10-14 FT) and Dante Taylor added 10 points as Pitt claimed its 12th contest out of its last 15 matchups against the Orange. The win also gave Jamie Dixon his 175th career victory. He now ranks second on Pitt's all-time career coaching victories list. H.C. Carlson, who comprised a 367-247 record from 1922-53, is the school's all-time winningest coach.
Pitt began Big East play with a 65-52 home win over DePaul on Dec. 30. Pitt jumped out to an early lead in the first half and coasted to the win. Ashton Gibbs scored 23 points (3-4 3FG) and Jermaine Dixon added 12 as Pitt held its 10th consecutive opponent at the Petersen Events Center to 60 points or less.
Even though it plays one more non-conference game (vs. Robert Morris on Feb. 8), Pitt concluded its non-conference portion of its schedule with 10 wins for the ninth consecutive season.
For only the fourth game this year, Pitt will have its roster entirely intact with the return of Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) and Jermaine Dixon (right foot fracture). The Ohio game on Dec. 22 marked the first time that both Brown and Dixon, Pitt's two most experienced players, both appeared on the court this year. Dixon sat out the season's first eight games after suffering a broken right foot in August. Pitt returned just one starter (Dixon) and six letterwinners from its 2008-09 squad. Through its first 10 games, Pitt started five players that had accumulated just one previous career start. Dixon made his return vs. Indiana after sitting out the first eight games while recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. For a rundown on how much experience Pitt had in the early going this season, please take a look at the chart on page 6.
Cincinnati is 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big East after winning contests at Rutgers (65-58) and at home against No. 10 Connecticut (71-69). UC is also on a four-game win streak. At home, Cincinati owns an undefeated 7-0 record. The Bearcats are led by preseason All Big East selection Deonte Vaughan (10.9), Big East preseason Rookie of the Year and freshman Lance Stephenson (13.0 ppg.) and forward Yancy Gates (10.6 ppg.). Opponents average just 61.9 points per game vs. the Bearcats.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt enters its contest at Cincinnati on a five-game win streak and winners of eight of its last nine contests. The game marks Pitt's second in a three-game road swing.
The Pitt-Cincinnati contest features two of the final three Big East teams who are undefeated at 2-0.
Big East Most Improved Player Award candidate Ashton Gibbs has averaged 23.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. He has also shot 69.2 percent (9-13) from 3-point range in Pitt's first two league games. He also set the school record for most consecutive free throws made with 37 at Syracuse Saturday.
Pitt has its entire team intact for the fourth straight game. Jermaine Dixon (right foot injury) and Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) both returned to the floor for the first time against Ohio (Dec. 22). Pitt played its first 10 games with a starting five who had a combined one career start prior to the season opener.
Pitt owns a 22-8 record vs. Big East teams added in 2005-06 (Cincinnati 5-1, DePaul 6-0, Louisville 4-3, Marquette 4-4, South Florida 3-0).