Dec. 31, 2009
GAME 14: PITT (11-2, 1-0 Big East) at #5 SYRACUSE (13-0, 1-0 Big East)
Saturday, January 2, 2010 Noon ET
Carrier Dome (33,633) Syracuse, N.Y.
Television: ESPN Regional/WTAE-TV, Channel 4 (Scott Graham and Mike Kelley; Producer: Steve Melton).
National Television Affiliates: Pittsburgh (WTAE-TV), New York-Connecticut-New Jersey (SportsnetNY), Chicago (WCIU-DT4, ThisTV), Boston-Manchester (WCVB), Washington, D.C. (MASN), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota (Brighthouse), Orlando, Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla. (Brighthouse-O), Baltimore (MASN), Hartford-New Haven (WCTX), Cincinnati (WKRC), Columbus, Ohio (WWHO), Milwaukee (WMLW), Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa. (WLYH), Louisville (WHAS), New Orleans (Cox-NO), Providence-New Bedford, R.I. (Cox-NE), Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa. (WSWB), Lexington, Ky. (WTVQ), Charleston-Huntington, W.Va. (WCHS), Dayton, Ohio (WBDT), Wichita-Hutchinson Plus (KWCH), Green Bay-Appleton, Wis. (WACY), Rochester, N.Y. (TW-Rochester), Syracuse (TW-Syracuse), South Bend-Elkhart, Ind. (WMYS), Johnstown-Altoona, Pa. (WHVL), Evansville, Ind. (WAZE), Youngstown, Ohio (WYTV-DT), Lansing, Mich. (WHTV), LaCross-Eau Claire, Wis. (KQEG), Rockford, Ill. (WTVO-DT2), Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, W.Va. (WOAY), Wheeling-Steubenville (WTOV), Clarksburg-Weston, W.Va. (WVFX), Parkersburg, W.Va. (WTAP).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Rob King, Dick Groat and Curtis Aiken), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970-AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 90 (Pitt feed); Channel 91 (SU feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 11th year at Pitt, 7th year as head coach (174-47); Syracuse: Jim Boeheim, 34th year at SU (812-288), 34th year overall (812-288).
Rankings: Pitt: AP-NR; ESPN-NR; Syracuse: AP-5; ESPN-5.
Series: Pitt and Syracuse meet for the 98th time with Syracuse holding a 61-36 advantage. Pitt has claimed 10 of the series' last 13 meetings. Pitt has also defeated Syracuse three consecutive times and claimed four of the last five meetings at the Carrier Dome.
SYRACUSE, N.Y.--Pitt (11-2, 1-0 Big East) plays its second Big East Conference regular season game when it travels to No. 5 Syracuse (13-0, 1-0 Big East) on Saturday, Jan. 2 for a matchup at the Carrier Dome. Tipoff is at noon ET.
The contest is a Big East Game of the Week syndicated telecast on ESPN Regional. It will air locally in Pittsburgh on WTAE Channel 4 and made available to 36 affiliates nationwide. Scott Graham and Mike Kelley will handle play-by-play and color analyst duties respectively. Steve Melton will produce.
Pitt is currently on a four-game win streak and has won seven of its last eight contests. Pitt enters its toughest stretch in years when it will play three straight road games along with three of its next five opponents who are ranked among the nation's top-25: No. 5 Syracuse, No. 10 Connecticut and No. 13 Georgetown. Additionally, Pitt will play at Cincinnati and host Louisville.
In Syracuse, Pitt plays its second top-5 nationally ranked opponent this year. It dropped a 78-62 decision to No. 3 Texas on Nov. 24. Pitt has won four of its last five matchups against top-5 ranked teams and is 15-47 all-time vs. top-5 teams. In his seven years as head coach, Jamie Dixon owns a 7-2 all-time record vs. top-5 ranked teams and is 27-24 all-time record vs. top-25 ranked teams.
Pitt began Big East play with a 65-52 win over DePaul on Dec. 30. Pitt jumped out to an early lead in the first half and coasted to the win. Ashton Gibbs scored 23 points (3-4 3FG) and Jermaine Dixon added 12 as Pitt held its 10th consecutive opponent at the Petersen Events Center to 60 points or less. The win also gave Jamie Dixon his 174th career victory. He is now tied for second place on Pitt's all-time career coaching victories list with Bob Timmons (174-189 wins from 1953-68). H.C. Carlson, who comprised a 367-247 record from 1922-53, is the school's all-time winningest coach.
Even though it plays one more non-conference game (vs. Robert Morris on Feb. 8), Pitt concluded its non-conference portion of its schedule with 10 wins for the ninth consecutive season.
At home, Pitt currently owns the nation's second longest home win streak at 30 games and a 46-game win streak against non-conference opponents. It also owns a 50-9 record vs. Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center.
For only the third game this year, Pitt will have its roster entirely intact with the return of Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) and Jermaine Dixon (right foot fracture). The Ohio game on Dec. 22 marked the first time that both Brown and Dixon, Pitt's two most experienced players, both appeared on the court this year. Dixon sat out the season's first eight games after suffering a broken right foot in August. Pitt returned just one starter (Dixon) and six letterwinners from its 2008-09 squad. Through its first 10 games, Pitt started five players that had accumulated just one previous career start. Dixon made his return vs. Indiana after sitting out the first eight games while recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. For a rundown on how much experience Pitt had in the early going this season, please take a look at the chart on page 6.
No. 5 Syracuse is 13-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big East after defeating Seton Hall, 80-73, in its league opener. Five Syracuse players average double figure scoring including Wes Johnson (17.0 ppg./9.0 rpg.), Brandon Triche (10.9 ppg.), Kris Joseph (10.4 ppg.), Arinze Onuaku (10.3 ppg.) and Rick Jackson (10.3 ppg.).
Pitt has claimed 10 of the series' last 13 meetings. The Panthers have also experienced success at the Carrier Dome as they have won three consecutive games and four of the last five matchups at Syracuse. The last time Pitt visited the Carrier Dome, the Panthers used an 18-2 run to rally back from an 11-point deficit (75-64) with 3:49 left to claim an incredible 82-77 win on February 24, 2008. Three current Pitt players saw action in that game. Gilbert Brown hit a clutch 3-pointer and finished with 12 points (4-7 FG, two 3-pointers) off the bench and Gary McGhee played four minutes in the contest. Brad Wanamaker was also on the roster but did not see action in that game. Syracuse holds a 61-36 all-time advantage in the series.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Today's matchup features the Big East's best offensive team (Syracuse) against its best defensive team (Pitt). Syracuse averages 87.7 points per game, while Pitt limits opponents to 55.9 points per game.
Pitt enters the contest at Syracuse on a four-game win streak and winners of seven of its last eight contests.
Pitt has won 10 of its last 13 overall games against Syracuse, has claimed three consecutive and four of the last five meetings at the Carrier Dome.
In Syracuse, Pitt plays its second top-5 ranked team on the year. Pitt has defeated four of its last five top-5 ranked teams and Jamie Dixon is 7-2 vs. top-5 ranked teams.
Pitt has its entire team intact for the third straight game. Jermaine Dixon (right foot injury) and Gilbert Brown (academic suspension) both returned to the floor for the first time against Ohio. Pitt played its first 10 games with a starting five who had a combined one career start prior to the season opener.