Feb. 14, 2014
GAME 26: #25/23 PITT (20-5, 8-4 ACC) at NORTH CAROLINA (16-7, 6-4 ACC)
Saturday, February 15, 2014 1 p.m. ET
Smith Center (21,750) Chapel Hill, N.C.
Television: CBS (Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony; Producer: Mark Wolff).
Pitt Radio: Pitt IMG Sports Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat). 93.7 The Fan. 93.7 FM; Satellite Radio: Sirius-Channel 92 (UNC feed), XM-Channel 190 (UNC feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 15th year at Pitt, 11th year as head coach (282-91); North Carolina: Roy Williams, 11th year at UNC (298-86), 26th year overall (716-187).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-25; USA Today-23; North Carolina: AP-ARV; USA Today-NR.
Series: Pitt and North Carolina meet for the ninth time in series history with Carolina holding a 7-1 advantage. The last time the two schools met in basketball was on Nov. 29, 1996, an 82-62 UNC win at the Smith Center. Pitt's lone win in the series was during the 1941 NCAA Tournament on March 21, 1941, when Pitt advanced to the Final Four with a 26-20 victory in Madison, Wis. Pitt is 0-3 in games played in Chapel Hill. It is the first ACC meeting.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--No. 25/23 Pitt (20-5, 8-4 ACC) will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. for the first time in 18 years to face North Carolina (16-7, 6-4 ACC) in a Saturday, February 15 contest at the Smith Center. Tipoff is at 1 p.m. ET.
The game will be nationally televised on CBS with Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (color analysis) making the call. Mark Wolff will handle production.
At 8-4 in Atlantic Coast Conference competition, Pitt enters the game in fourth place in the league standings behind first place Syracuse (11-0), second place Virginia (11-1) and third place Duke (8-3). Six regular season games remain for Pitt, including two home contests (Florida State, Feb. 23 and North Carolina State, March 3) and four road games at North Carolina, Boston College (Feb. 26), Notre Dame (March 1) and Clemson (March 8).
Pitt has won 20 or more games for the 13th consecutive season. It is one of 19 teams in college basketball with 20 wins. Pitt has won its 20 games by an average margin of 12.5 points per game. Sixteen of Pitt's 20 wins have come by nine or more points and 12 of its 20 are by 17 points or more. Pitt's five losses are by a combined 26 points (5.2 points per game). Three have come on last second plays. In four of the five losses, Pitt held leads deep into the games.
Offensively, the Panthers are averaging 72.6 points per game, converting 46.4 percent (623-1342) of field goals, 34.5 percent (121-351) of 3-point field goals and a solid 71.9 percent (447-622) of free throw attempts. Pitt is also outrebounding its opponents by a sizable plus-6.7 margin. Defensively, Pitt is holding its opponents to 60.0 points per game and yielding a 40.1 (524-1308) field goal percentage. Twenty-one of Pitt's 25 opponents have been held to 70 points or less and 15 have been limited to 60 points or less.
In each of Pitt's last four games, each game has been decided by five points or less, two went into double OT or overtime and two were decided on game-winning shots at the buzzer. Defense has been the key over their last four games as the Panthers have held each of their four opponents to an average of 54.5 points per game and 37.1 (72-194) shooting from the floor.
Through 12 Atlantic Coast Conference games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-6.3 margin. Pitt is shooting 44.5 percent (270-607) and 36.4 percent (56-154) from 3-point range. National/ACC Player of the Year/First Team candidate Lamar Patterson is averaging 17.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game and Talib Zanna nearly averages a double-double in points (13.5) and rebounds (8.3).
Pitt is coming off a 58-56 loss to No. 1 Syracuse. Tyler Ennis hit a 35-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Orange the win and hand Pitt its first loss to a top-5 ranked team at the Petersen Events Center (9-1). Talib Zanna hit two free throws to give Pitt a one-point lead with four seconds to go. Zanna led Pitt with his eighth double-double of the year (16 points/14 rebounds). Lamar Patterson also added 14 points (3-8 3FG).
Prior to the Syracuse game, the Panthers previously claimed back-to-back overtime victories over Virginia Tech (62-57 in 2OT) at PEC) and Miami (59-55 OT) on the road. It marks the first time since the 1997-98 season that Pitt has played back-to-back overtime games. Cameron Wright sparked Pitt with 18 points and James Robinson contributed 16 (3-4 3FG) in the double overtime win vs. Virginia Tech. Wright converted four free throws to give Pitt an early lead in the second overtime period. Robinson sent the game into overtime as he converted a rare four-point play. Pitt held Virginia Tech to 0-13 shooting in the overtime periods.
At home, Pitt is 13-3 this year, has won 15 of its last 18 games and owns a 19-game consecutive win streak against non-conference opponents. In its 12th season in the Petersen Events Center, Pitt owns a 193-25 overall record in the arena and a 79-22 conference record (4-3 vs. ACC/75-19 vs. Big East). The Panthers also own a 110-3 record vs. non-conference opponents at the Petersen Events Center and have won 131 of its last 135 home games against regular season non-conference opponents.
Pitt plays North Carolina for the first time in ACC regular season play. The Tar Heels are on a five-game win streak after defeating Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Maryland and Notre Dame in consecutive contests. UNC is 11-3 at home and is led by Marcus Paige (17.0 ppg., 51-139 3FG), James M. McAdoo (15.0 ppg./6.8 rpg.) and Brice Johnson (10.1 ppg.).
SATURDAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt plays its sixth road game of the 2013-14 season. Traditionally a successful road team, Pitt has claimed five of its last six road games, nine of its last 12 road games and compiled one of the Big East's best road records (59-43, 57.8%) over the last 12 seasons.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon owns a 19-2 career record vs. previous ACC teams and a 35-14 overall record vs. current ACC teams (including Syracuse and Notre Dame).
Lamar Patterson has emerged as a national player of the year candidate (Oscar Robertson Trophy/Naismith Watch List) and an ACC Player of the Year candidate.
When comparing ACC basketball programs over the last 13 years, Pitt ranks second among league programs in overall winning percentage (339-101, .770), league winning percentage (149-67, .690), homecourt winning percentage (.885) and NCAA Tournament appearances (11).