Jan. 30, 2009
GAME 21: NOTRE DAME (12-7, 3-5 Big East) at #3 PITT (18-2, 6-2 Big East)
Saturday, January 31, 2009 Noon ET Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN/ESPN-360 (Dave Pasch and Len Elmore; Producer: Scott Matthews)
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Rob King and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Westwood One National Radio Network (Tom McCarthy and Bill Frieder). 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 (150-42); Notre Dame: Mike Brey, 9th year at ND (179-93), 14th year overall (278-145).
Rankings: Pitt: 3-AP, 3-ESPN; Notre Dame: not ranked-AP, 22-ESPN.
Series: Pitt and Notre Dame meet for the 53rd time in series history. The series is tied at 26-26. Pitt has claimed each of the last four games vs. the Fighting Irish at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt has claimed six of the last eight total meetings.
PITTSBURGH--No. 3 ranked Pitt (18-2, 6-2 Big East) hosts Notre Dame (12-7, 3-5 Big East) for a Saturday, Jan. 31 contest at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at noon.
The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN with Dave Pasch (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (color commentary) calling action. Scott Matthews will handle production.
Pitt's 18-2 record ties for the school's all-time fourth best record after 20 games played. Pitt went 20-0 en route to an undefeated 21-0 slate in 1927-28, 19-1 both in Jamie Dixon's first year in 2003-04 and in 1929-30, 18-2 this year, 17-3 in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2002-03 and 1987-88 and 16-4 in 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 returns home after playing two games on the road. The Panthers enter the game with a 6-2 Big East regular season record after dropping a 67-57 loss at No. 21 Villanova on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at the Spectrum. The game marked the final college basketball event at the Wachovia Spectrum. In its other road contest, Pitt also defeated West Virginia 79-67 on Jan. 25 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 20 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-16.1 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-9.1 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.3 percent (580-1225) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 38.4 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 19 of its 20 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 Notre Dame, Pitt plays the fifth 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 has played four nationally ranked opponents in No. 7 Louisville, No. 15 Syracuse, West Virginia, No. 21 Villanova and No. 22 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 Notre Dame meet for the 53rd time since the series began in 1927. The series is deadlocked at 26-26. Pitt owns a 16-10 record in games played in Pittsburgh and has claimed each of the last four contests played at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt has also won five of the series' last six matchups.
Notre Dame enters Saturday's game after having lost four consecutive contests to nationally ranked opponents Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville and Marquette. The Fighting Irish are led by Luke Harangody who averages 25.0 ppg. and 13.3 rpg. Kyle McAlarney averages 16.0 points per game and has hit 78 of his 168 3-point field goal attempts (46.4 percent).
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt plays the final game of a difficult five-game stretch against teams who either are or were nationally ranked during the season. Three of those games were on the road. The stretch included at No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Syracuse, at West Virginia, at No. 21 Villanova and vs. Notre Dame.
At 18-2, 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.
Under Jamie Dixon, Pitt enters the game with a 27-9 record following a loss.
Pitt has won 14 straight home games and carries a 108-10 all-time record (.915 percentage) in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 43-9 record vs. Big East Conference opponents at the PEC.
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