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GAME 26: #19 PITT (19-6, 8-4 Big East) at MARQUETTE (16-8, 7-5 Big East)
Thursday, February 18, 2010 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT
Bradley Center (18,600) Milwaukee, Wis.
Television: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch and Len Elmore; Producer: Jonathan Labovich).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Sirius-125 (Pitt feed), XM-203 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coacheses: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (182-51); Marquette: Buzz Williams, 2nd year at MU (41-18), 2nd year overall (41-18).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-19; ESPN-21; Marquette: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.
Series: Pitt and Marquette meet for the 13th time in history with the series tied at 6-6. Even though Pitt has defeated Marquette in each of the last two meetings, the Panthers are 1-4 all-time in games played in Milwaukee and have never defeated Marquette at the Bradley Center (0-3).
No. 19 Pitt (19-6, 8-4 Big East) travels to Milwaukee, Wis. to play Big East rival Marquette (16-8, 7-5 Big East) on Thursday, February 18 at the Bradley Center. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with Dave Pasch (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (color analyst) calling action. Jonathan Labovich will handle production.
The Pitt-Marquette matchup pairs the Big East's leading 3-point shooting team (Marquette, 42.3%, 8.1 3FGMpg) vs. the league's best team in defending the 3-pointer (Pitt, allowing 30.3% and only 4.8 3FGMpg).
With six Big East games remaining, Pitt enters its contest at Marquette in a two-way tie for second place with West Virginia with identical 8-4 records. Villanova and Syracuse remain atop the Big East standings with 11-2 records respectively. Georgetown ranks fifth at 8-5 and Louisville and Marquette tied for sixth with 7-5 records.
Pitt is in the midst of a key four-game stretch. The Panthers will play four consecutive who have compiled a 74-25 combined record up to this point (West Virginia, W-3OT 98-95, Marquette, Villanova and Notre Dame).
A win at Marquette would give Pitt its ninth consecutive 20-win season, a streak that ranks as the longest in school history. Prior to this stretch, the most consecutive 20-win seasons was two in both 1986-87 and 1987-88. It would mark the program's 17th all-time 20-win season in 103 years of Pitt Basketball. Jamie Dixon would become the first head coach in school history to win 20 or more games in seven consecutive seasons.
Riding a three-game win streak, Pitt enters the matchup after winning 12 of its last 16 games and 16 of its last 21 contests. Earlier this year, Pitt 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.
Pitt improved to 8-4 in the Big East with a 98-95 three overtime home win against West Virginia. A "classic," Pitt battled back from a seven-point deficit with 1:13 left in regulation to force overtime. An Ashton Gibbs 3-pointer with 26 seconds left sent the game into overtime. Pitt finally won the game in third overtime period, converting 5-6 free throws in the final few minutes to claim the win. Gibbs and Wanamaker finished with 24 points apiece. Travon Woodall turned in one of his best games with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Gilbert Brown added 16 points off the bench.
Pitt played its final non-conference game on Feb. 8 as it defeated Robert Morris 77-53 behind 20 points from Ashton Gibbs, 18 from Jermaine Dixon and a double-double from Brad Wanamaker. Pitt improved to 28-0 all-time vs. the Colonials and 68-0 all-time vs. Northeast Conference opponents.
Pitt also defeated Seton Hall 83-58 on Feb. 6. The 25-point win tied for Pitt's largest of the year and its 83 points marked a team season-high. Five Panthers reached double figure scoring for the first time this season. Gilbert Brown scored a game-high 23 points (9-14 FG), while Jermaine Dixon (15), Brad Wanamaker (13), Gary McGhee (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Ashton Gibbs (11) all reached double figure scoring. Pitt took control of the game with a 9-0 second half run on account of three 3-pointers on three straight possessions. The win concluded a two-game losing streak.
Marquette (16-8, 7-5 Big East) enters the matchup on a five-game win streak. The Golden Eagles are 12-2 at home this year and are led by Lazar Hayward (18.6 ppg./8.1 rpg.), Jimmy Butler (15.3 ppg./6.6 rpg.) and Darius Johnson-Odom (12.4 ppg./49.5 3FG%).
At home, Pitt is 14-1 on the year and recently concluded a 31-game home win streak. It also is 54-10 vs. Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center. In addition, Pitt owns a 46-game win streak against non-conference opponents at home. Pitt also owns a 75-1 record vs. non-conference opponents in the Petersen Events Center and has claimed 96 of its last 97 home games against regular season non-conference opponents.
Pitt is in its eighth season in the Petersen Events Center with a 129-11 all-time record and .921 winning percentage. The .921 winning percentage ranks among the nation's best homecourt records over the last eight years (see chart page 8). Pitt has won 59 of its last 69 Big East home games. Only two opponents (Louisville and Georgetown) have defeated the Panthers two times in the Petersen Events Center.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Pitt enters the Marquette contest on a three-game win streak.
A win at Marquette would give Pitt a 20-6 overall record and its ninth consecutive 20-win season. Jamie Dixon is vying for his seventh consecutive 20-win season in seven years as head coach at Pitt.
Pitt is 4-3 on the road this year and has won 11 of its last 16 games away from home. Over the last nine seasons, Pitt owns the Big East's best road winning percentage (.603) with a 44-29 record.
Against Marquette, Pitt has claimed each of the last two meetings and three of the last four. The Panthers are 0-3 vs. Marquette in Milwaukee and since the Golden Eagles joined the Big East in 2005-06.
Pitt enters the contest with a 24-9 record against schools that were added to the Big East in 2005-06: Cincinnati 6-1, DePaul 6-0, Louisville 5-3, Marquette 4-4, USF 3-1.