Feb. 23, 2010
GAME 28: #12 PITT (21-6, 10-4 Big East) at NOTRE DAME (17-10, 6-8 Big East)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7 p.m. ET
Joyce Center (11,418) South Bend, Ind.
Television: ESPN2, ESPN360 (John Saunders and Fran Fraschilla; Producer: Eric Mosley).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Sirius-N/A (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (184-51); Notre Dame: Mike Brey, 10th year at UND (205-111), 15th year overall (304-163).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-12; ESPN-16; Notre Dame: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.
Series: Pitt and Notre Dame meet for the 54th time in series history with Pitt holding a 27-26 series advantage. Pitt has claimed seven of the series' last nine matchups. Pitt has won two of the last four games played at Notre Dame and is 9-16 all-time in South Bend.
SOUTH BEND, Ind.--No. 12 Pitt (21-6, 10-4 Big East) travels to South Bend, Ind. to play Notre Dame (17-10, 6-8 Big East) on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET at the Joyce Center.
The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with John Saunders (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (color analyst) calling action. Eric Mosley will handle production.
With four Big East regular season games remaining, Pitt enters its contest against Notre Dame in third place in the league standings with a 10-4 record. Syracuse (12-2) leads the league, while Villanova ranks second at 11-3. West Virginia is fourth with a 10-5 record.
Pitt is at the conclusion of a key four-game stretch in which the Panthers have played four opponents who have compiled a 75-28 combined record up to this point. It has already won the first three of those contests: vs. No. 5 West Virginia, W-3OT 98-95, at Marquette, 58-51 and vs. No. 3 Villanova 70-65. Notre Dame is next.
For a Big East leading ninth consecutive season, Pitt has won 20 or more overall games and claimed 10 or more league wins. Pitt is the only school to achieve that honor in the Big East in each of the last nine seasons. Pitt won its 20th game on Feb. 18 at Marquette and picked up its 10th league win Sunday vs. Villanova. Prior to this stretch, the most consecutive 20-win seasons for Pitt Basketball was two in both 1986-87 and 1987-88. The 2009-10 season marks the program's 17th all-time 20-win season in 103 years of Pitt Basketball. Jamie Dixon also became the first head coach in school history to win 20 or more games in seven consecutive seasons.
Riding a five-game win streak, Pitt enters the matchup after winning 14 of its last 18 games and 18 of its last 23 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 won its 10th league win on Sunday with a 70-65 home victory against No. 3 ranked Villanova. The win gave Pitt three wins over top-5 ranked teams on the season. Ashton Gibbs finished with 21 points, Gilbert Brown scored 16 and Jermaine Dixon finished with 10 and limited VU's Scottie Reynolds to six points for the majority of the contest. Pitt won the game despite shooting just 35 percent from the floor. The Panthers made up for the shooting with 21 offensive rebounds and 77 percent (26-34) free throw shooting. Pitt built a 10-point lead and held on throughout the second half for the win.
Pitt won its 20th game of the year with a 58-51 win at Marquette on Feb. 18. Four Panthers reached double figure scoring as they built 10-point second half lead and held on for the win. Pitt shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half and limited Marquette, the nation's No. 2 ranked 3-point shooting team to 5-19 from 3-point range.
On Feb. 12, Pitt claimed a 98-95 three overtime home thriller 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 the 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.
Notre Dame enters the contest with a 17-10 overall and 6-8 Big East record. Coached by Mike Brey, the Fighting Irish have dropped three consecutive games, all decided by three points or less. Notre Dame is led by Big East leading scorer Luke Harangody (24.1 ppg./10.0 rpg.), Tim Abromaitis (17.3 ppg./4.8 rpg., 49% 3FG) and Ben Hansbrough (12.1 ppg., 45% 3FG). The Irish are converting 41 percent of their 3-point attempts on the year.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
On a five-game win streak, Pitt is the only Big East program to win 20 overall games and 10 league games in each of the last nine seasons. Pitt is one of only four programs nationally to win 20+ overall games, 10+ league games and advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine seasons (Arizona, Gonzaga, Kansas and Pitt).
Pitt is the nation's only college basketball program with three wins over top-5 nationally ranked teams: No. 5 Syracuse, No. 5 West Virginia and No. 3 Villanova.
Pitt is 5-3 on the road this year and has won 12 of its last 17 games away from home. Over the last nine seasons (2002-10), Pitt owns the Big East's best road winning percentage (.608) with a 45-29 record.
With his 184 career wins, National and Big East Coach of the Year candidate Jamie Dixon ranks tied for third place on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list after seven seasons as a head coach.