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Men's Basketball to Face No. 4 Michigan on Wednesday in NIT Season Tip-Off

Pitt's Talib Zanna goes up for a dunk against Oakland in Saturday's 72-62 overtime win.

Pitt's Talib Zanna goes up for a dunk against Oakland in Saturday's 72-62 overtime win.

Nov. 19, 2012

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GAME 5: #4 MICHIGAN (3-0) vs. PITT (4-0)

NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal • Wednesday, November 21, 2012

9:30 p.m. ET • Madison Square Garden (20,057) • New York, N.Y.

MEDIA INFORMATION

Television: ESPN2 (John Saunders, Dan Dakich; Sidelines: Andy Katz; Producer: Steve Fenig).

Pitt Radio: Pitt IMG Sports Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat). 93.7 The Fan, 93.7 FM; Satellite Radio: Sirius-N/A (Pitt feed); N/A (Pitt feed).

National Radio: Dial Global Radio Network, Sirius Channel 91 (Dave Sims and Kelly Tripuka).


 

 

Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.

Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 14th year at Pitt, 10th year as head coach (242-77); Michigan: John Beilein, 6th year at Michigan (94-77), 35th year overall (645-395).

Rankings: Pitt: AP-ARV; ESPN-ARV; Michigan: AP-4; ESPN-4.

Series: Pitt and Michigan meet for 18th time in series history. Pitt is 6-11 all-time vs. Michigan in a series which began in 1925. The last meeting between the two schools was on Dec. 30, 1996, an 85-76 Pitt win in the Rainblow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Pitt is 123-143 all-time vs. Big Ten programs. The Panthers have won 10 of their last 13 meetings against Big Ten programs. 

GAME PREVIEW

NEW YORK--Pitt (4-0) travels to New York City and Madison Square Garden to face No. 4 Michigan (3-0) in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. ET for a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN2. Kansas State and Delaware face off in the other NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. 

Wednesday's winners will advance to the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23 at MSG. The losers will play in the Consolation Game at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Both of those contests will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Wednesday's game will air on ESPN2 with John Saunders and Dan Dakich handling play-by-play and color analyst duties respectively, Andy Katz reporting from the sidelines and Steven Fenig managing production. Friday's games will be televised nationally on ESPN with Mark Kestecher (play-by-play), Doris Burke and Dakich as announcers and Fenig producing. 

Madison Square Garden is Pitt's "home away from home" as the Panthers have played 42 games there since the 2000-01 season. Since 2000-01, Pitt is 28-14 overall, has claimed two Big East Championship titles (2003 and 2008), won more Big East Tournament games than any other league program (20) and advanced to the Big East title game in seven of the last 12 seasons. Pitt was also named Madison Square Garden's "Team of the Decade" and Jamie Dixon was named MSG's College Basketball "Coach of the Decade (2000-10). Historically, Pitt appeared in the country's first-ever nationally televised game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28, 1940, a 57-37 win over Fordham. Pitt's roster is always filled with New York area players including Tray Woodall (Brooklyn), J.J. Moore (Brentwood, Long Island), Dante Taylor (Greenburgh), Chris Jones (Teaneck, N.J.) and assistant coach Brandin Knight (nearby East Orange, N.J.).

Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon was born in New York City and his family lived there. At MSG, Dixon owns a 20-12 all-time record, captured a Big East Tournament championship (2008), guided Pitt to four BEC Championship game appearances, coached in his first-ever game as head coach at MSG (vs. Alabama, Nov. 14, 2003) and led Pitt to the 2K Sports Classic/Coaches vs. Cancer title in 2010. Each year, MSG hosts the Maggie Dixon Women's Basketball Classic and the Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair. The event, held in Dixon's sister, Maggie's honor, has become the nation's premier women's college basketball event. 

Pitt is competing in its second all-time Preseason NIT event. The Panthers advanced to NYC in the 1991 Preseason NIT event after defeating Manhattan and upsetting Kentucky. At MSG, Pitt dropped a 74-63 contest to Oklahoma State, then defeated Texas 91-87 in the Consolation Game.

Pitt enters its fifth game with a 4-0 record for the 14th time in the last 15 years. Pitt enters its game against Michigan with a perfect 4-0 record. Through its first four games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-25.5 margin, shot 52.6 percent (122-322) from the floor and outrebounded its opponents by 12.8 boards per game. Pitt has forced 8.0 turnovers per game and totaled 35 steals for a 8.8 steals per game average, numbers that are uncommonly high for the Panthers. Pitt has also dominated the paint, having outscored its opponents 164-68 in the paint. The Panthers bench also has outscored their opponents by 136-42 total. 

In dramatic fashion, Pitt battled back to defeat Oakland in overtime, 72-62, on Saturday. The comeback victory ranked as the largest halftime deficit overcome in school history as the Panthers trailed by 14 points at the half and by as many as 18 points with 11:34 left. Pitt used four 3-pointers to get back into the game and cut the margin to seven points with a minute to go. Oakland committed four turnovers in the game's final 38 seconds and Pitt capitalized. With 10 seconds left and after trailing for 32 consecutive minutes, freshman James Robinson calmly hit two free throws to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Pitt scored 11 of the period's first 13 points to claim the win. J.J. Moore led Pitt with his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Robinson scored a career-high 14 points and Dante Taylor came off the bench to total 12 points and nine rebounds.

With a 78-53 win over Lehigh, Pitt advanced to the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal Round at New York's Madison Square Garden. In its 25-point win over Lehigh, Pitt used a 21-5 run to seize control of the game in the second half. Tray Woodall led Pitt with a game-high 23 points and eight assists, Talib Zanna finished with 20 points on 8-9 shooting, while Durand Johnson came off the bench to score a career-high nine points in only 17 minutes of action and Dante Taylor grabbed 10 rebounds. The defensive duo of James Robinson and Trey Zeigler held Lehigh preseason All-American C.J. McCollum to 17 points. 

Pitt now owns a 95-3 record vs. non-conference opponents at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt has also won 116 of its last 120 home games against regular season non-conference opponents. Since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002, Pitt owns a 48-1 record in November non-conference home games and has a 43-1 record in December non-conference matchups.

In No. 4 Michigan, Pitt plays its 19th top-5 ranked team since 2000-01. Pitt is 13-5 vs. top-5 ranked teams during that span. Coached by John Beilein, Michigan is led by Trey Burke (18.3 ppg.), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (17.3 ppg.), Glenn Robinson III (13.3 ppg.) and Nik Stauskas (11.0 ppg.). The Wolverines finished 24-10 overall and 13-5 in the Big Ten in 2011-12. Dixon and Beilein have coached head-to-head in 12 games with Dixon holding a 9-3 record vs. the former West Virginia coach. 

WEDNESDAY'S TOP STORYLINES

•Pitt plays No. 4 ranked Michigan in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal at Madison Square Garden. Since 2000-01, Pitt is 13-5 vs. top-5 ranked teams and 23-12 vs. top-10 ranked teams. 

•MSG is Pitt's "home away from home." Pitt was named MSG's "Team of the Decade" from 2000-10 as the Panthers have amassed a 28-14 record in the arena. Pitt has also claimed 16 of its last 24 games at MSG.

•Since 2000-01 at MSG, Pitt has won two Big East Tournament titles (2003 and 2008), advanced to seven league tournament title games in 11 years and won more Big East Tournament games (20) than any other BEC program. 

•Over the last 11 seasons, Pitt has been the Big East Conference's leader in overall winning percentage (299-87, .775), league winning percentage (129-57, .694), Big East Championships (six), Big East Tournament wins (20) and NCAA Tournament appearances (10 of 11).