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No. 17 Men's Basketball Hosts St. John's on Thursday




Jan. 27, 2010

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GAME 20: ST. JOHN'S (12-7, 2-5 Big East) at #17 PITT (15-4, 5-2 Big East)

 

Thursday, January 28, 2010 • 7 p.m. ET

Petersen Events Center (12,508) • Pittsburgh, Pa.

 

MEDIA INFORMATION

 

Television: ESPN-U (Quint Kessenich, Bob Wenzel; Producer: John Wilson).


 

 

Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Sirius 122 (Pitt feed).

Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.

 

The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (178-49); St. John's: Norm Roberts, 6th year at SJU (76-92), 6th year overall (76-92).

 

Rankings: Pitt: AP-17; ESPN-17; St. John's: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.

 

Series: Pitt and St. John's meet for the 53rd time in series history with the Red Storm holding a 33-19 edge. Pitt has claimed each of the last three meetings and six of the last eight. Pitt is 4-0 vs. St. John's in the Petersen Events Center and has won five straight home games vs. the Red Storm.

 

GAME PREVIEW

 

No. 17 Pitt (15-4, 5-2 Big East) hosts St. John's (12-7, 2-5 Big East) for a Thursday, Jan. 28 contest. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET at the Petersen Events Center where Pitt has won 31 of its last 32 games.

 

The contest will be nationally televised on  ESPN-U with Quint Kessenich and Bob Wenzel handling play-by-play and color analyst duties respectively. John Wilson will handle production.

 

Despite a two-game losing streak, Pitt has won eight of its last 10 games and 12 of its last 15 contests. It recently completed one of its most difficult schedule stretches in years. For the first time since it joined the Big East Conference in 1982, Pitt won three consecutive back-to-back-to-back road games at No. 5 Syracuse (87-72), at Cincinnati (74-71) and at No. 16 Connecticut (67-57). It defeated Louisville 82-77 in overtime on Jan. 13 and concluded the stretch with a 74-66 home loss to Georgetown, which snapped the Panthers' 31-game home win streak.

 

With a 5-2 league record, Pitt's start in Big East play ranks tied for the second best start in school history. Pitt began the 2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons with 6-1 records. Pitt was also 5-2 in 1986-87, 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2007-08. See chart page 4.

 

Pitt is on a two-game losing streak for the first time in 23 months and the first time since February 21-24, 2008 when it lost to both Notre Dame and Louisville. Pitt has been extremely difficult to defeat two times in a row. Since Dixon became head coach, he is now 32-10 in games played after losing a contest. Under Dixon, Pitt has lost three consecutive games only two times (Feb. 20-26, 2005 and Feb. 15-24, 2008) and two straight contests five times. Dixon owns a 4-2 record after losing two straight games.

 

For the ninth game this year, Pitt will have its roster entirely intact with the return of its two most experienced players-Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) and Jermaine Dixon (right foot fracture). Since both players have returned to the floor against Ohio on Dec. 22, 2009, Pitt owns a 6-2 record. Since the duo's return, Brown and Dixon have combined to average 21.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while Pitt has seen an increase in offensive production as it has averaged 71.4 points per game, shot 45.6 percent (196-430) from the floor and 37.7 percent from three point range. Dixon sat out the season's first eight games after suffering a broken right foot in August. Entering the season, 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.

 

Pitt is 5-2 in Big East play after dropping a 64-61 road loss at Seton Hall on Sunday, Jan. 24. Despite committing 20 turnovers, Pitt had possession of the ball with an opportunity to tie in the final 11 seconds, but two 3-pointers missed their mark. Ashton Gibbs finished with a game-high 23 points and tied a school record for best free throw percentage in a game with a 14-14 performance from the line. Jermaine Dixon added 11 points.

 

Pitt also dropped a 74-66 loss at home to No. 12 Georgetown on Jan. 20. The loss snapped Pitt's eight-game win streak and 31-game home win streak. Georgetown's Chris Wright led all scorers with 27 points (11-17) including 15 in the second half. Pitt was led by Gilbert Brown's career-high 20 points (8-9 FG) and Jermaine Dixon's 14.

 

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.

 

St. John's enters the game in Pittsburgh with a 12-7 overall and 2-5 Big East record. Coached by Norm Roberts, the Red Storm is led by Pittsburgh native and Schenley High School graduate D.J. Kennedy, who averages 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Dwight Hardy (11.8 ppg), Paris Horne (8.4 ppg.) and Justin Brownlee (7.8 ppg.) are all key contributors for St. John's. St. John's enters the contest on a two-game losing streak after dropping consecutive games at Connecticut (75-59) and Villanova (81-71). Pitt has won three straight meetings against St. John's and has claimed six of the series' last eight meetings.

 

At home, Pitt concluded the nation's second longest home win streak at 31 games and is 10-1 on the year. It also is 51-10 vs. Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 46-game win streak against non-conference opponents.

 

Pitt is in its eighth season in the Petersen Events Center with a 125-11 all-time record and .919 winning percentage. The .919 winning percentage ranks among the nation's best homecourt records over the last seven years (see chart page 8). Pitt has won 56 of its last 66 Big East home games and is 51-10 against Big East opponents in the Petersen Events Center. Only two opponents (Louisville and Georgetown) have defeated the Panthers two times in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 74-1 record vs. non-conference opponents in the Petersen Events Center and has claimed 95 of its last 96 home games against regular season non-conference opponents. In addition, Pitt concluded the 2008-09 regular season with an undefeated 19-0 home record, its fourth all-time undefeated year at home. Pitt also was undefeated in 2002-03 (16-0), 1973-74 (13-0) and 1974-75 (10-0).

 

TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES

 

•Pitt enters the contest after winning eight of its last 10 and 12 of its last 15 games.

 

•Pitt is in its eighth season in the Petersen Events Center and carries a 125-11 overall record (.919 winning percentage) and is 51-10 record vs. Big East opponents.

 

•Pitt has won 31 of its last 32 home games. Pitt just completed a 31-game home win streak streak which ranks as the second longest in school history and second longest in Petersen Events Center history.

 

•In games played after losing a contest, Jamie Dixon's all-time record is 32-10. Pitt lost back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 21-24, 2008. Under Dixon, Pitt has dropped three straight games only two times since 2003-04.

 

•Pitt is 6-2 since veterans Jermaine Dixon (right foot injury) and Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) both returned to the floor. Pitt played its first 10 games with a starting five that combined for one career start prior to the season opener.