Jan. 13, 2009
GAME 16: SOUTH FLORIDA (6-9, 1-2 Big East) at #1 PITT (15-0, 3-0 Big East)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 7 p.m. ET Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN-U (Dan McLaughlin and Mike Kelley; Producer: Tom Schofield).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 158 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (147-40); South Florida: Stan Heath, 2nd year at USF (18-28); 6th year overall (118-86).
Rankings: Pitt: 1-AP, 1-ESPN; South Florida: unranked.
Series: Pitt and USF meet for the fifth time in the series. Pitt is 2-2 all-time vs. USF, but is 2-0 vs. USF since it joined the Big East Conference. Pitt is 16-7 vs. programs added to the Big East in 2005-06: Cincinnati 4-1, DePaul 3-0, Louisville 4-2, Marquette 3-4, USF 2-0.
PITTSBURGH--No. 1 ranked Pitt (15-0, 3-0 Big East) plays its second straight Big East Conference home game when it hosts South Florida (6-9, 1-2 Big East) on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.
The contest will be televised on ESPN-U with Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play) and Mike Kelley (color commentary) calling action. Tom Schofield will handle production.
For the second consecutive week, Pitt will enter a game as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Last week, 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 118 of the previous 127 national polls. Additionally, Pitt has been ranked among the nation's top-10 teams in each of the last seven seasons (2002-09). 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).
With a win over South Florida, Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon would move into sole possession of third place on Pitt's all-time coaching victories list. He is currently tied with Paul Evans, who compiled a 147-98 record in eight years at Pitt from 1986-94. Dixon and Evans are both behind H.C. Carlson (367-247 in 31 years) and Robert Timmons (174-189 in 15 years).
For the third time in the last six years, Pitt begins a season with a 15-0 start. The 15-0 start ranks tied for third among Pitt's all-time best starts to a season. Pitt went 21-0 in 1927-28, 18-0 in Head Coach Jamie Dixon's first season in 2003-04, 15-0 in 2005-06 and 15-0 in 1915-16. 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. 12, 2009). Pitt also has the best RPI and highest strength of schedule rating of any Big East Conference school.
Pitt is one of only three schools nationwide to own an undefeated college basketball record. The three schools include Pitt (15-0), Clemson (16-0) and Wake Forest (14-0). Pitt's 15-game win streak ranks as the nation's second longest win streak behind Clemson (16). Other lengthy win streaks include Wake Forest (14), Saint Mary's (12) and Utah State (10).
After being idle for a week, Pitt defended its No. 1 ranking with a 90-67 win over St. John's on Sunday. DeJuan Blair led the Panthers with his 10th double-double of the year with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six steals. The Panthers defeated both No. 11 Georgetown (70-54) and Rutgers (78-72) in consecutive road games. The Georgetown game saw Blair finish with 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.
Through its first 15 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-19.7 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-10.5 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.7 percent (445-933) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 37.2 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 14 of its 15 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., 2009). DeJuan Blair ranks third nationally in rebounding (12.6) and most likely leads the nation in offensive rebounds. He is also ranked No. 18 in field goal percentage (60.6). Levance Fields ranks No. 2 in assist:turnover ratio (4.35) and 10th in assists per game (6.7), while Sam Young is rated 43rd in scoring (19.0).
Pitt and South Florida meet for the fifth time in series history. The series is tied at 2-2, although Pitt has won both of the last two matchups since USF joined the Big East Conference in 2005-06. Pitt is a combined 16-7 vs. Big East schools added in 2005-06 (Cincinnati 4-1, DePaul 3-0, Louisville 4-2, Marquette 3-4, USF 2-0).
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Pitt plays its second game as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. The Panthers ascended to the No. 1 ranking last week for the first time in school history. Previously, Pitt had been No. 2 on 16 different occasions.
At 15-0, Pitt is the only undefeated Big East team and one of only three unbeaten teams nationally. The other unbeatens are Clemson (16-0) and Wake Forest (14-0).
A victory Wednesday would put Jamie Dixon (147 wins) in sole possession of third place on Pitt's all-time coaching wins list. He will surpass Paul Evans, who compiled 147 wins from 1986-94.
Pitt is 15-0 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 12 straight home games and carries a 106-10 all-time record (.914 percentage) in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 41-9 record vs. Big East Conference opponents at the PEC.