Feb. 26, 2010
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GAME 29: #12 PITT (21-7, 10-5 Big East) at ST. JOHN'S (15-12, 5-10 Big East)
Saturday, February 27, 2010 Noon ET
Madison Square Garden (19,528) New York City, N.Y.
Television: ESPN Regional/FSN-Pittsburgh (Doug Sherman and John Celestand; Producer: Darren Chiappetta).
Network Affiliates: Pittsburgh (FSN Pittsburgh), New York-Connecticut-New Jersey (MSG Network), Washington D.C. (MASN), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota (Brighthouse), Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne (Brighthouse-Orlando), Baltimore (MASN), Providence, R.I. (Cox-NE), ESPN Full Court.
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel-121 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (184-52); St. John's: Norm Roberts, 6th year at SJU (79-97), 6th year overall (79-97).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-12; ESPN-16; St. John's: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.
Series: Pitt and St. John's meet for the 54th time in series history with St. John's leading the series 33-20. Recently, Pitt has won four consecutive matchups and seven of the last nine. Pitt is 5-18 in games played at St. John's and 3-7 vs. the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden.
NEW YORK--No. 12 Pitt (21-7, 10-5 Big East) travels to New York City to play St. John's (15-12, 5-10 Big East) on Saturday, Feb. 27. Tipoff is at noon ET at Madison Square Garden.
The contest will be regionally televised on ESPN Regional and broadcast locally on FSN Pittsburgh with Doug Sherman (play-by-play) and John Celestand (color analyst) calling action. Darren Chiappetta will handle production.
With three Big East regular season games remaining, Pitt enters its contest at St. John's in a tie for third place with West Virginia (10-5). Syracuse leads the league with a 13-2 record, while Villanova ranks second at 12-3.
On Wednesday, Pitt concluded a key four-game stretch in which the Panthers played four opponents who have compiled a 77-28 combined record up to this point. It won three of the four games, defeating No. 5 West Virginia, W-3OT 98-95, at Marquette, 58-51 and vs. No. 3 Villanova 70-65. Pitt dropped a 70-65 loss at Notre Dame Wednesday.
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.
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.
Madison Square Garden is Pitt's home away from home. Since the 2000-01 season, Pitt has won two Big East Tournament titles, appeared in seven of the last nine Big East Tournament title games and amassed a 23-10 overall record in the arena. It has played 33 games there since the 2000-01 season. Pitt appeared in the country's first-ever nationally televised basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28, 1940, a 57-37 win at Fordham. Pitt also has three New York area players on its roster: point guard Travon Woodall (Brooklyn), freshman center Dante Taylor (Greenburgh) and sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs (Scotch Plains, N.J.). Head Coach Jamie Dixon was born in New York City and spent time living in the city as a child. Assistant Coach Brandin Knight guided Pitt to the 2003 Big East Tournament title there and video coordinator Rasheen Davis is a Bronx, native.
After winning five of its past six games, Pitt enters the matchup after winning 14 of its last 19 games and 18 of its last 24 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 dropped a 68-53 loss at Notre Dame on Wednesday. Notre Dame hit an opponent season-high 10-18 3-point field goals and outrebounded Pitt 34-25. The Panthers shot just 42 percent from the floor and reached the free throw line only seven times in the loss. Jermaine Dixon (13 points) and Ashton Gibbs (11 points) led Pitt.
Pitt won its 10th league win on Feb. 21 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.
St. John's enters the game with a 15-12 overall and 5-10 Big East record. Coached by Norm Roberts, St. John's has won three of its last five games. Pittsburgh native and Schenley H.S. graduate D.J. Kennedy averages 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, Dwight Hardy comes off the bench to score 10.6 ppg. and Paris Horne contributes 8.2 ppg. The Red Storm is 10-5 in home games.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Winners of five of its last six games, Pitt is the only Big East school to win 20 overall and 10 league games in each of the last nine years. 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).
Madison Square Garden is Pitt's home away from home as Pitt has won two Big East titles (2003 and 2008), advanced to the Big East title game in seven of the last nine years and amassed a 23-10 record in the arena since 2000-01. Pitt has claimed 11 of its last 15 games at Madison Square Garden.
Pitt has won 12 of its last 18 games away from home. Over the last nine years, Pitt owns the Big East's best road winning percentage with a 45-30 record.
With 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. He is 34-11 in games played after a loss.