Jan. 27, 2009
GAME 20: #3 PITT (18-1, 6-1 Big East) at #21 VILLANOVA (15-4, 3-3 Big East)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7 p.m. ET Wachovia Spectrum (18,136) Philadelphia, Pa.
Television: ESPN-U/ESPN-360 (Dan McLaughlin and Mike Kelley; Producer: Tom Scofield).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Matt Chazanow and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 123 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (150-41); Villanova: Jay Wright, 8th year at VU (163-87), 14th year overall (285-172).
Rankings: Pitt: 3-AP, 3-ESPN; Villanova: 21-AP, 21-ESPN.
Series: Pitt and Villanova meet for the 58th time with the Wildcats holding a 30-27 advantage in the series. Pitt is 2-2 in each of the last four games played in Philadelphia and owns a 5-17 record in games played in Philly. The contest marks the final college basketball game in the Spectrum.
PITTSBURGH--No. 3 ranked Pitt (18-1, 6-1 Big East) travels to Philadelphia, Pa. to take on No. 21 Villanova (15-4, 3-3 Big East) for a Wednesday, Jan. 28 game at the Wachovia Spectrum. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.
The contest has been billed as the "last college basketball game played at the Spectrum." The Spectrum opened in 1967 and has been home to the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, and has hosted various sporting events including hockey, basketball, boxing and concerts. Pitt and Villanova played one basketball game at the Spectrum on January 30, 1991, a 75-72 Villanova win.
The contest will be nationally televised by ESPN-U with Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play) and Mike Kelley (color commentary) calling action. Tom Scofield will handle production.
Pitt's 18-1 record ties for the school's all-time second best record after 19 games played. Pitt went 19-0 en route to a 21-0 slate in 1927-28, 18-1 both in Jamie Dixon's first year in 2003-04 and in 1929-30, 17-2 both in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and 16-3 in 1987-88, 2002-03 and 2007-08. Pitt needs just two more victories to reach the 20-win mark for the eighth consecutive season. Pitt is the only Big East Conference school to win 20 overall games and 10-plus league contests in each of the last seven seasons.
Pitt plays its second straight Big East road contest. It is 4-1 in road games this year. The Panthers improved to 6-1 in the Big East after defeating West Virginia 79-67 on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum. Sam Young scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and DeJuan Blair contributed his 13th double-double in the victory. The win also marked Head Coach Jamie Dixon's 150th career win. Dixon became the fastest head coach in school history to win 150 career games.
With a 78-60 victory over No. 8 Syracuse at the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 19, Pitt improved to 27-9 under Jamie Dixon in games following a loss. Sam Young scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, DeJuan Blair totaled his 12th double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds and Levance Fields finished with 15 points and six assists as the Panthers outscored the Orange 47-32 in the second half.
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.
Through its first 19 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-17.5 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-9.3 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.7 percent (558-1171) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 38.2 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 18 of its 19 opponents to 70 points or less and 10 teams to 60 points or less.
Several Pitt players are ranked among national leaders in various statistical categories (as of Jan. 26, 2009). DeJuan Blair ranks fourth nationally in rebounding (12.7) and leads the nation in offensive rebounds with 5.9 orpg according to StatsLLC (Note: the NCAA does not rank top offensive rebounders). He is also ranked No. 18 in field goal percentage (59.0). Levance Fields ranks second nationally in both assist:turnover ratio (3.54) and assists per game (6.9), while Sam Young is rated 49th in scoring (18.8).
In Villanova, Pitt plays the fourth of a difficult five-game stretch that includes games against four nationally ranked opponents and three road contests. During this current five-game stretch, Pitt will play four nationally ranked opponents in No. 7 Louisville, No. 15 Syracuse, West Virginia, No. 21 Villanova and Notre Dame. Pitt has played four consecutive nationally ranked opponents only once in its 101-year men's basketball history. That stretch occurred from Jan. 5, 1990-Jan. 19, 1990.
Pitt and Villanova meet for the 58th time in series history. Villanova holds a 30-27 advantage in the series which began in 1960. Pitt is 5-17 in games played in Philadelphia and 0-1 vs. the Wildcats in the Spectrum. Pitt has claimed six of the series' last 10 contests along with two of the last four games played at Villanova.
No. 21 Villanova is led by Dante Cunningham's 16.6 ppg. and 7.2 rpg. Scottie Reynolds contributes 14.7 ppg. and Corey Stokes adds 10.1 ppg.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt plays the fourth of a difficult five-game stretch against teams who either are or were nationally ranked during the season. Three of those games are on the road. The stretch includes at No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Syracuse, at West Virginia, at No. 21 Villanova and vs. Notre Dame.
At 18-1, Pitt needs two more wins to record its eighth straight 20-win season. Pitt is the only Big East school to win 20 overall games and 10-plus league games in each of the last seven seasons.
Pitt is 4-1 in road games this year.
Sam Young was named the Big East Player of the Week after he averaged 22.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in Pitt's two wins on week.
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