March 5, 2010
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GAME 31: RUTGERS (15-15, 5-12 Big East) at #17 PITT (23-7, 12-5 Big East)
Saturday, March 6, 2010 4:30 p.m. ET
Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN Regional/FSN Pittsburgh (Rob King and Mark Adams; Producer: Bill Shissler).
TV Network Affiliates: Pittsburgh (FSN Pittsburgh), New York-Connecticut-New Jersey (MSG), Washington, D.C. (MASN), Baltimore, Md. (MASN), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota (Brighthouse), Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne (Brighthouse-O), 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-127 (Pitt feed); XM-203 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (186-52); Rutgers: Fred Hill, 4th year at RU (47-75), 4th year overall (47-75).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-17; ESPN-18; Rutgers: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.
Series: Pitt and Rutgers meet for the 45th time in series history. Pitt is 21-23 all-time vs. Rutgers but has claimed nine of the last 10 matchups against RU. Pitt has won seven of the last eight meetings vs. Rutgers at home and is 3-1 vs. the Scarlet Knights at the Petersen Events Center.
PITTSBURGH--No. 17 Pitt (23-7, 12-5 Big East) plays its final regular season game on Saturday, March 6 when it hosts Big East rival Rutgers (15-15, 5-12 Big East). Tipoff is at 4:30 p.m. ET at the Petersen Events Center.
The contest will be televised on ESPN Regional and broadcast locally on FSN Pittsburgh with Rob King (play-by-play) and Mark Adams (color analyst) calling action. Bill Shissler will handle production.
With its 73-71 victory over Providence, Pitt secured a two-day bye upon entering the Big East Tournament which begins on Tuesday, March 9. With one Big East regular season game remaining, Pitt is currently tied with West Virginia for third place at 12-5. Syracuse leads the league with a 15-2 record and will be the No. 1 seed upon entering the Big East Tournament. Villanova is second at 13-4. Marquette is fifth at 11-6 and Louisville is sixth at 10-7. Pitt holds head-to-head tiebreakers against Villanova, West Virginia (because of its win at Syracuse). West Virginia plays at Villanova on Saturday. Should WVU defeat Villanova and Pitt defeat Rutgers, it would secure the No. 2 seed. A Pitt win and Villanova win would give Pitt the No. 3 seed. A WVU win with a Pitt loss would give Pitt the No. 4 seed.
A win Saturday would give Pitt its 13th Big East victory on the year. The 13 wins would tie for the second highest win total in league play since Pitt joined the Big East in 1982-83. Pitt set the record with 15 wins in 2008-09. Pitt also won 13 Big East regular season games in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. The two-year period from 2008-10 has proven to be Pitt's all-time winningest two-year league period in school history with 27 total wins (15 in 2008-09 and 12 in 2009-10).
Saturday's contest represents Senior Day for Pitt. Two-year senior Jermaine Dixon, one-year senior Chase Adams, walk-on Tim Frye and student assistant Austin Wallace will all be honored in a pre-game ceremony which will begin at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Ranked in the top-10 in the RPI (as of March 5, 2010), 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 on Feb. 21 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.
After winning seven of its past eight games, Pitt enters the matchup after winning 16 of its last 21 games and 20 of its last 26 contests. Pitt recently completed a key four-game stretch in which the Panthers played four opponents who compiled a 77-28 combined record up to this point. It won three of those 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 on Feb. 24. 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.
In dramatic fashion, Pitt defeated Providence 73-71 on Thursday at the Petersen Events Center. With Pitt trailing 71-70 with 3.5 seconds to go, Ashton Gibbs received the inbounds pass, dribbled downcourt and swished a 30-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. PC's Brian McKenzie converted the second of two free throws to give the Friars a 71-70 lead after he was fouled following Pitt's missed jumper. Gibbs tied career-highs with 25 points, six 3-pointers and nine field goals made, Jermaine Dixon registered his first career double-double with career-highs of 24 points and 12 rebounds and Brad Wanamaker notched his fifth career double-double with a career-high 13 assists and 10 points. With the win, Pitt clinched a double-bye upon heading into the Big East Tournament.
Rutgers enters the game with a 15-15 overall and 5-12 Big East record. Coached by Fred Hill, the Scarlet Knights are led by Mike Rosario's 16.5 ppg. and Jonathan Mitchell's 11.8 ppg. Pitt has won nine of the last 10 matchups between the two schools and has won seven of the last eight meetings in Pittsburgh against the Scarlet Knights.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Winners of seven of its last eight games, Pitt is the lone Big East program 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+ games, 10+ league games and advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine seasons (Arizona, Gonzaga, Kansas and Pitt).
In its eighth season in the Petersen Events Center, Pitt carries a 131-11 overall record (.923 winning percentage) and is 56-10 all-time vs. Big East opponents in the arena. Pitt is 16-1 at home this season. Pitt has won 37 of its last 38 home games.
With 186 career wins, National and Big East Coach of the Year candidate Jamie Dixon ranks third on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list after seven seasons as a head coach. The record is 188 wins held by Gonzaga's Mark Few from 2000-06.
Today's game marks Senior Day as Jermaine Dixon, Chase Adams, Tim Frye and Austin Wallace will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony.
2009-10 SENIOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
As a group, here is what the 2009-10 Pitt Senior Class of Jermaine Dixon, Chase Adams and Tim Frye has accomplished:
Two consecutive NCAA Tournaments and one Elite Eight appearance (2009).
Compiled a 54-12 overall record over the last two years.
Two consecutive 20-win and 10-win league seasons.
Totaled 27 combined Big East wins over the last two years (school record 15-3 in 2008-09, 12-5 in 2009-10), the winningest two-year period in school history.
Compiled a 35-1 home record over the last two seasons.
Totaled a 24-2 non-conference record from 2008-10.
All three will graduate in 2010: Jermaine Dixon (administration of justice), Chase Adams (social science), Tim Frye (business/marketing).