Jan. 18, 2009
GAME 18: #8 SYRACUSE (17-2, 5-1 Big East) at #1 PITT (16-1, 4-1 Big East)
Monday, January 19, 2009 7 p.m. ET Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN/ESPN-360 (Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery; Producer: Bo Garrett).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 126 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (148-41); Syracuse: Jim Boeheim, 33rd year at SU (788-280), 33rd year overall (788-280).
Rankings: Pitt: 1-AP, 1-ESPN; Syracuse: 8-AP, 8-ESPN. (as of Jan. 12).
Series: Pitt and Syracuse meet for the 97th time in series history. Syracuse holds a 61-35 advantage in the series. Pitt is 21-24 all-time in home games vs. the Orange. Pitt has claimed 10 of the last 13 meetings between the two schools including five of the last six at home.
PITTSBURGH--No. 1 ranked Pitt (16-1, 4-1 Big East) hosts No. 8 Syracuse (17-2, 5-1 Big East) for a Monday, Jan. 19 game at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.
The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN as part of its Big Monday package with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (color commentary) and Bill Raftery (color commentary) calling action. Bo Garrett will handle production.
Pitt ends its second consecutive week as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. On Jan. 12, 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 became 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).
Pitt dropped to 4-1 in the Big East and concluded its 16-game win streak with a 69-63 loss at No. 20 Louisville on Saturday. Pitt totaled season-highs of 20 turnovers 26 personal fouls as Louisville used a 19-3 run down the stretch to claim the win. Jermaine Dixon scored a career-high 19 points and hit a career-high three 3-pointers.
With its 75-62 win over South Florida on Jan. 14, Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon moved into sole possession of third place on Pitt's all-time coaching victories list with 148 wins in six years. He surpassed 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 second time in the last six years, Pitt began a season with a 16-0 start. The 16-0 start ranks third among Pitt's all-time best men's basketball starts to a season. Pitt went 21-0 to win the mythical national title in 1927-28 and began the 2003-04 season with an 18-0 record in Head Coach Jamie Dixon's first season. 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.
Pitt claimed a 75-62 win over South Florida on Jan. 14. For the first time in his career, Tyrell Biggs led the Panthers in scoring (16 points), DeJuan Blair added 13 points and 18 rebounds and Levance Fields registered his second career double-double with 11 points and 13 assists. After being idle for a week, Pitt defended its No. 1 ranking with a 90-67 win over St. John's on Jan. 11. DeJuan Blair led the Panthers with his 10th double-double of the year with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six steals.
Through its first 17 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-17.8 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-9.8 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.0 percent (496-1055) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 37.8 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 16 of its 17 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. 15, 2009). DeJuan Blair ranks second nationally in rebounding (13.0) and leads the nation in offensive rebounds with 6.2 orpg (The NCAA does not rank top offensive rebounders). He is also ranked No. 22 in field goal percentage (59.4). Levance Fields leads the nation in assist:turnover ratio (4.71) and ranks second in assists per game (7.1), while Sam Young is rated 52nd in scoring (18.7).
In No. 8 Syracuse, Pitt plays its second straight nationally ranked opponent and third nationally ranked opponent of the season. During this current five-game stretch, Pitt will play four nationally ranked opponents in No. 20 Louisville, No. 8 Syracuse, West Virginia, No. 23 Villanova and No. 12 Notre Dame. Pitt has played four consecutive nationally ranked opponents only once in its 101-year men's basketball history. That stretch occured from Jan. 5, 1990-Jan. 19, 1990.
Pitt and Syracuse meet for the 97th time in series history. Pitt owns a 35-61 overall record vs. the Orange, while the Panthers are 21-24 vs. Syracuse in games played in Pittsburgh. Pitt has claimed 10 of the last 13 meetings between the two schools along with five of the last six games played in Pittsburgh.
Syracuse enters the contest with a 17-2 overall record and 5-1 Big East slate. The Orange are led by Jonny Flynn (16.3 ppg.), Eric Devendorf (14.4 ppg.), Paul Harris (13.9 ppg.) and Arinze Onuaku (12.7 ppg.).
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Pitt plays the second of a five-game stretch against teams who either are or were nationally ranked during the season. Three of those games will be on the road. The stretch includes at No. 20 Louisville, No. 8 Syracuse, at West Virginia, at No. 23 Villanova and vs. No. 12 Notre Dame.
Pitt owns a 22-9 record under Jamie Dixon after a loss and is 11-3 under Dixon in games played following a road loss.
Pitt has won 13 straight home games and carries a 107-10 all-time record (.914 percentage) in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 42-9 record vs. Big East Conference opponents at the PEC.
Pitt plays its second straight nationally ranked opponent in No. 8 Syracuse. Pitt has won five of its last six and 10 of its last 13 vs. SU.
Levance Fields needs just five assists to become the sixth player in school history to surpass the 1,000-point and 500-assist marks for a career. He has 495 career assists.