Dec. 2, 2011
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GAME 8: #17 PITT (6-1) at TENNESSEE (3-3)
Big East/SEC Challenge Saturday, December 3, 2011 5:15 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) Knoxville, Tenn.
Television: ESPN (Mark Jones and Len Elmore; Producer: Kim Belton).
Pitt Radio: Pitt IMG College Sports Radio Network (Jim Colony and Dick Groat) 93.7 The Fan, 93.7 FM; Satellite Radio: Sirius-136; XM-198 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
Pitt Coach: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 13th year at Pitt, 9th year as head coach (222-61);
Tennessee: Cuonzo Martin, 1st year at UT (3-3), 4th year overall (64-44).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-17; ESPN-17; Tennessee: AP-NR; ESPN-NR.
Series: Pitt and Tennessee meet for the sixth time in series history. Tennessee holds a 4-1 advantage in the series. The two schools met in last year's SEC-Big East Invitational, held at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center on Dec. 11, 2010. The No. 11 ranked Vols claimed an 83-76 victory over No. 3 Pitt. Pitt has won six of its last seven games against Southeastern Conference opponents. The Panthers are 22-26 all-time vs. SEC schools.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--No. 17 ranked and defending Big East regular season champion Pitt (6-1) travels to Knoxville to play Tennessee (3-3) in the Big East/SEC Challenge on Saturday, December 1, 2011 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tipoff is at 5:15 p.m. ET.
The contest will be nationally broadcast on ESPN with Mark Jones and Len Elmore handling play-by-play and color commentary duties respectively. Kim Belton will manage production.
The newly expanded Big East-SEC Challenge format includes 12 games over the next three days beginning on Thursday. Thursday's games include: St. John's at Kentucky, Providence at South Carolina, Georgetown at Alabama and Mississippi at DePaul. Friday's contests include: Cincinnati at Georgia, Florida at Syracuse, Auburn at Seton Hall, Vanderbilt at Louisville. Saturday's games are Arkansas at Connecticut, LSU at Rutgers, Pitt at Tennessee and West Virginia at Mississippi State.
Pitt and Tennessee represent two of the nation's most successful college basketball programs over the last 10 years. Pitt has made 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, advanced to five Sweet Sixteens and compiled a 279-72 overall record in the last 10 years. Likewise, Tennessee has appeared in seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments and advanced to three NCAA Sweet Sixteens over the last five seasons. The Vols have also compiled a 194-107 record over the last 10 seasons (.645).
The two schools have some recent history. Last year, No. 11 Tennessee upset No. 3 Pitt in the SEC-Big East Invitational at Consol Energy Center, 83-76. The teams also played a home-and-home series in both 1998 and 1999, both Tennessee wins.
The two schools have several ties. Tennessee forward Dwight Miller played at Pitt 2009-10 before transferring to Midland (Texas) Junior College. UT Head Coach Cuonzo Martin served as coach for Ashton Gibbs on his World University Games USA Basketball squad that traveled to China this summer.
On a four-game win streak, Pitt enters its eighth game with a 6-1 record. On Wednesday, Pitt defeated Duquesne for the 11th consecutive season, winning an 80-69 victory at the Consol Energy Center. With the win, the Panthers have now captured 53 of their last 55 November games. Ashton Gibbs led Pitt with 18 points on four 3-pointers, Dante Taylor registered his second career double-double with a career-high 15 points and 11 rebounds and Lamar Patterson added 10. Despite committing 23 turnovers, Pitt led the entire way, outrebounded the Dukes 39-15 and converted 11 3-pointers in the victory. Also, Pitt's bench outscored DU's 34-16.
Last week, Pitt claimed the Philly HoopGroup Classic title with an 81-71 win over Robert Morris on November 27. Pitt's bench sparked the victory, outscoring the Colonials' bench 29-10. Pitt jumped out to an early lead and coasted to the win. Talib Zanna notched his second career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, Cameron Wright finished with 13 points (6-7 FG), Ashton Gibbs scored 21 points, Tray Woodall added his fourth double-double of the year (12 points, 10 assists) and Khem Birch grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, six blocked shots and scored eight points.
SATURDAY'S TOP STORYLIINES
Pitt will play its first Big East/SEC Challenge contest.
Pitt plays its second road game of the year. Pitt has won 22 of its last 30 road games and finished a school-best 7-2 in Big East road games last year. Over the last 10 years, Pitt owns the Big East's best road record with a 52-32 combined slate.
Pitt makes its first visit to Knoxville and Tennessee since Dec. 6, 1998. Pitt has claimed six of its last seven vs. SEC opponents.
Over the last 10 seasons, Pitt has proved to be the Big East's leader in overall winning percentage (279-72, .795), league winning percentage (124-44, .740), consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (10) and most 20-win, 10-win Big East years (10).
Pitt is one of only three programs nationally to win more than 20+ games, 10+ league games and advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 10 seasons (Gonzaga, Kansas and Pitt).