Dec. 29, 2008
GAME 13: #3 PITT (12-0, 0-0 Big East) at RUTGERS (9-4, 0-0 Big East)
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2 p.m. ET Louis Brown Athletic Center (8,000) Piscataway, N.J.
Television: ESPN Regional/FSN Pittsburgh, ESPN-360 (Don Criqui, Jim Spanarkel, Andy Katz; Producer: Darren Chiappetta).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Rob King and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 113 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (144-40); Rutgers: Fred Hill, 3rd year at Rutgers (30-43); 3rd year overall (30-43).
Rankings: Pitt: 3-AP, 3-ESPN; Rutgers: unranked.
Series: Pitt and Rutgers meet for the 44th time in series history. Pitt has won eight of the two team's last nine meetings against Rutgers. Pitt has also claimed four straight games played in Piscataway.
PITTSBURGH--No. 3 ranked Pitt (12-0, 0-0 Big East) begins Big East Conference play when it travels to Piscataway, N.J. to take on Rutgers (9-4, 0-0 Big East) on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. ET.
The contest will be broadcast on ESPN Regional and televised locally on FSN-Pittsburgh with Don Criqui (play-by-play), Jim Spanarkel (color commentary) and Andy Katz calling action. Darren Chiappetta will produce.
For the third time in the last six years, Pitt begins a season with a 12-0 start. Head Coach Jamie Dixon has guided Pitt to 10-0 starts in each of his first six seasons as head coach. Additionally, Dixon has guided Pitt to six of the top-10 best starts to a season in school history.
According to www.realtimerpi.com, Pitt is ranked No. 1 nationally in Ratings Percentage Index and No. 8 nationally in the strength of schedule rankings (as of Dec. 29, 2008). Pitt also has the best RPI and highest strength of schedule rating of any Big East Conference school.
Pitt is one of nine schools nationwide to own an undefeated college basketball record. Pitt is one of six schools to own a current 12-0 record (North Carolina, Clemson, Illinois State, Oklahoma and Minnesota are all 12-0). On Dec. 21, Pitt became the first program in the nation to win 12 games. Pitt's 12-game win streak ranks tied for the nation's longest with North Carolina, Clemson, Illinois State, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
The University of Pittsburgh is one of four NCAA Division I schools to be ranked nationally in the sports of football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The four schools include Pitt, Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma.
Pitt begins Big East play on a 12-game win streak after defeating Florida State (56-48) and Siena (79-66). Pitt defeated Florida State 56-48 by limiting the host Seminoles to 29.8 percent shooting (14-47) while Sam Young scored a game-high 21 points, DeJuan Blair registered his eighth double-double (10 pts/12 reb.) and Jermaine Dixon totaled 11 points. In defeating Siena, DeJuan Blair totaled another double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
For the second consecutive season Pitt opens Big East play with two consecutive road games. Following the Rutgers game, Pitt will travel south to Washington, D.C. for its Saturday, Jan. 3 game at No. 12 Georgetown.
Through its first 12 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-20.8 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-10.4 margin. The Panthers are also converting 47.5 percent (350-737) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 36.2 percent shooting. Pitt has also held all 12 of its opponents to 70 points or less and eight teams to 60 points or less.
Several Pitt players are ranked among national leaders in various statistical categories (as of Dec. 21, 2008). DeJuan Blair ranks second nationally in rebounding (13.0) and most likely leads the nation in offensive rebounds. He is also ranked No. 13 in field goal percentage (63.3). Levance Fields ranks No. 3 in assist:turnover ratio (4.28) and 17th in assists per game (6.4), while Sam Young is rated 32nd in scoring (20.1).
Pitt and Rutgers meet for the 44th time in series history. Pitt owns a 20-23 all-time record vs. the Scarlet Knights. Pitt has claimed eight of the series' last nine contests including four straight vs. the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. Pitt's previous eight-game win streak marked the school's longest in the series. Rutgers defeated Pitt 77-64 in the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 26, 2008, becoming just the eighth school to defeat the Panthers in the building. Pitt enters the game with a 9-11 record vs. Rutgers in games played in Piscataway.
Rutgers enters the contest with a 9-4 record. Over the next week-and-a-half, the Scarlet Knights will play the nation's top three ranked teams in consecutive games. Rutgers lost to No. 1 North Carolina 97-75 on Dec. 28, hosts the No. 3 team in Pitt (Dec. 31) and then travels to No. 2 Connecticut (Jan. 3). The Scarlet Knights are led by freshman Mike Rosario's 17.5 points per game. Anthony Farmer and Greg Echinique both average 9.5 ppg.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
At 12-0, Pitt is one of only nine undefeated teams nationally. It became the first team in the nation to reach 12 wins on Dec. 21. Pitt's 12-game win streak ranks tied for the nation's longest.
Pitt has defeated Rutgers in each of its last four meetings in Piscataway. Pitt has claimed eight of the last nine meetings vs. Rutgers.
For the second straight year, Pitt opens Big East play with two consecutive road games. The contest marks the second of three straight road games for the Panthers.
Pitt is 12-0 for the third time in the last six seasons. Dixon has won at least 10 straight games to start each of his six seasons at Pitt.
Pitt enters the game ranked No. 1 nationally in RPI and No. 8 in strength of schedule. It has the best RPI and strength of schedule ratings in the Big East.
Jamie Dixon is 38-3 in December games.
GAME NOTES: Panthers Play Penn State Saturday in Newark
Pitt Tops Buffalo, 84-79, for Fifth Straight Home Win
GAME NOTES: Pitt Returns to Action Wednesday Against Buffalo
Pitt Falls to Duquesne in City Game
VIDEO: PantherVision Goes 1-on-1 with Stallings & Young
GAME NOTES: Pitt to Face Duquesne in City Game Friday