Jan. 10, 2009
GAME 15: ST. JOHN'S (10-4, 1-1 Big East) at #1 PITT (14-0, 2-0 Big East)
Sunday, January 11, 2009 Noon ET Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN Regional/Big East Game of the Week/ESPN-360/WTAE-TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh (Don Criqui and Bob Wenzel; Producer: John Kettering).
The game will also be broadcast in these regional markets: New York City (SportsnetNY), Chicago (WPEU), Boston-Manchester (WCVB), Washington, D.C. (MASN), Tampa-St. Petersburg (Brighthouse), St. Louis, Mo. (Charter-St. Louis), Pittsburgh (WTAE), Baltimore, Md. (MASN), Kansas City, Mo. (Metro Sports), Columbus, Ohio (WWHO), Cincinnati, Ohio (WKRC), Milwaukee, Wis. (WMLW), Hartford, New Haven, Conn. (WCTX), Harrisburg-Lancaster, Pa. (WLYH), Louisville, Ky. (WHAS), Providence, R.I. (Cox-NE), Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Pa. (WSWB), New Orleans, La. (Cox-NO), Charleston-Huntington, W.Va. (WCHS), Green Bay-Appleton, Wis. (WACY), Syracuse, N.Y. (TW-Syracuse), South Bend-Elkhart, Ind. (WMYS), Johnstown-Altoona, Pa. (WHVL), Evansville, Ind. (WAZE), Youngstown, Ohio (WYTV), Monterey-Salinas, Calif. (KOTR), Bluefield-Beckley, W.Va. (WOAY), Wheeling-Steubenville, W.Va. (WTOV), Clarksburg-Weston, W.Va. (WVFX), Parkersburg, W.Va. (WTAP).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 130 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (146-40); St. John's: Norm Roberts, 5th year at SJU (58-51); 5th year overall (58-51).
Rankings: Pitt: 1-AP, 1-ESPN; St. John's: unranked.
Series: Pitt and St. John's meet for the 52nd time. Pitt owns an 18-33 record vs. St. John's. Pitt has claimed each of the last four meetings between the two schools played in Pittsburgh.
No. 1 ranked Pitt (14-0, 2-0 Big East) plays its Big East Conference home opener when it hosts St. John's (10-4, 1-1 Big East) on Sunday, Jan. 11 at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at Noon.
The contest is a syndicated televised Big East Game of the Week contest produced by ESPN-Regional. Don Criqui (play-by-play) and Bob Wenzel (color commentary) will call action. John Kettering will handle production.
For the first time in school history, Pitt will enter a game as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Pitt ascended to the No. 1 ranking following a 70-54 victory at No. 11 Georgetown. Previous No. 1 North Carolina lost to Boston College and previous No. 2 Connecticut lost to Georgetown. Pitt had previously been ranked No. 2 on 16 different occasions, the last being on Dec. 11, 2006. Pitt has been ranked among the nation's top-25 in 117 of the previous 126 national polls. Additionally, Pitt has been ranked among the nation's top-10 teams in each of the last seven seasons (2002-08). The men's basketball team becomes the first Pitt team to hold the No. 1 national ranking since the 1982 Pitt football season. The 1982 Pitt football team entered its season ranked No. 1 and held the top spot for three weeks during the year (Sept. 7, Oct. 26, Nov. 2).
For the third time in the last six years, Pitt begins a season with a 14-0 start. Head Coach Jamie Dixon has guided Pitt to 10-0 starts in each of his first six seasons as head coach. Additionally, Dixon has guided Pitt to six of the top-10 best starts to a season in school history.
According to www.realtimerpi.com, Pitt is ranked No. 1 nationally in Ratings Percentage Index and No. 6 nationally in the strength of schedule rankings (as of Jan. 9, 2009). Pitt also has the best RPI and highest strength of schedule rating of any Big East Conference school.
Pitt is one of three schools nationwide to own an undefeated college basketball record. The three schools include Pitt (14-0), Clemson (15-0) and Wake Forest (12-0). Pitt's 14-game win streak ranks as the nation's second longest win streak behind Clemson (15). Other lengthy win streaks include Wake Forest (13), Arkansas (10), Saint Mary's (10) and Texas A&M (10).
Pitt plays its third Big East contest after opening on the road with a 2-0 record. The Panthers defeated both No. 11 Georgetown (70-54) and Rutgers (78-72) in consecutive road games. The Georgetown game saw DeJuan Blair record his ninth double-double of the year with 20 points and 17 rebounds as Pitt outrebounded Georgetown 48-23 in registering the win. Pitt employed a 2-3 zone for the first time this year and held Rutgers to 27 percent shooting in the second half, Pitt's bench outscored Rutgers' 31-9 and Sam Young paced the Panthers with 18 points. Brad Wanamaker scored a career-high 15 points including 13 in the second half, and Gilbert Brown added 11. Tyrell Biggs also played a key role with a game-high 10 rebounds. Pitt entered Big East play with a perfect 12-0 non-conference record after defeating Florida State (56-48) and Siena (79-66).
For the second consecutive season, Pitt opened Big East play with two consecutive road games.
Through its first 14 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-19.4 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-10.9 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.6 percent (411-864) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 36.5 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 13 of its 14 opponents to 70 points or less and nine teams to 60 points or less.
Several Pitt players are ranked among national leaders in various statistical categories (as of Jan. 8, 2009). DeJuan Blair ranks second nationally in rebounding (12.5) and most likely leads the nation in offensive rebounds. He is also ranked No. 16 in field goal percentage (61.2). Levance Fields ranks No. 2 in assist:turnover ratio (4.79) and 12th in assists per game (6.5), while Sam Young is rated 32nd in scoring (19.5).
Pitt and St. John's meet for the 52nd time in series history. Pitt owns an 18-33 all-time record vs. the Red Storm. Pitt has won each of the last four matchups in Pittsburgh and is 12-13 in games played in Pittsburgh.
St. John's enters the game with 10-4 overall record. After dropping a 75-54 decision at Providence, the Red Storm defeated nationally ranked No. 7 Notre Dame 71-65 at Madison Square Garden. The Red Storm is led by Paris Horne and D.J. Kennedy, who both average 3.0 points per game. Kennedy is a Pittsburgh native who attended Schenley High School with DeJuan Blair. Blair and Kennedy guided Schenley to the 2007 Class 4A state title.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt plays its first game in school history with the consensus No. 1 national ranking. The Panthers ascended to the No. 1 ranking in both polls for the first time in school history. Previously, Pitt had been No. 2 on 16 different occasions.
At 14-0, Pitt is the only undefeated Big East team and one of only three unbeaten teams nationally. The other unbeatens are Clemson (15-0) and Wake Forest (13-0).
Pitt is 14-0 for the third time in the last six seasons. Dixon has won at least 10 straight games to start each of his six seasons at Pitt.
Pitt has won 11 straight home games and carries a 105-10 all-time record (.913 percentage) in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 40-9 record vs. Big East Conference opponents at the PEC.
A victory Sunday would vault Jamie Dixon (146 wins) into a third place tie on Pitt's all-time coaching wins list. Paul Evans compiled 147 wins from 1986-94.
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