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Jermaine Dixon, one of two seniors on the Pitt basketball team, wanted this one. He didn't forget the way the Villanova Wildcats ended Pitt's season in the NCAA tournament last year on Scottie Reynolds' last-second basket in the Elite Eight. Talking about today's game, Dixon said, "I wanted to win that game for the players that left last year. I felt bad for losing that game and I felt responsible and I definitely wanted to win that game for them."

And after 40 minutes of basketball, some degree of revenge was dished out to the #3 team in the country, as the Panthers beat 'Nova 70-65 before an on-campus record crowd of nearly 13,000 and a national CBS TV audience. Dixon and his teammates can never get back that 2009 loss, but what they did on Sunday was pretty special in its own right.

Pitt ran their all-time record to an unreal 7-0 against top-five teams at the Peterson Events Center and nearly led from beginning to end in this one, going up 10-9 in the first half and never looking back. The Wildcats would cut the lead to three twice in the final minute of play (both times by Reynolds, surprise, surprise), but Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs would bury two free throws each to seal the Pitt win.

The Panthers once again gave a tremendous team effort, controlling the game's tempo and dominating the offensive boards to the tune of 18-10. Gibbs, coming off an 0-for-6, two-point disaster against Marquette, led Pitt with 21 points. Gilbert Brown added 16 points to the Pitt cause, including a thunderous dunk with 1:29 left in the game that sent the record crowd into a frenzy. And Gary McGhee once again rose to the occasion, with 10 rebounds (including a season-high eight offensive), two blocks, and seven points for the Panthers.

The loss was a disappointing one for the Wildcats, which got only 26 minutes out of Reynolds on the day because of foul trouble. It was the first time all season that Jay Wright's team has lost two games in a row, and they still have a challenging slate ahead of them that includes West Virginia and Syracuse. There's still many an important game to be played in deciding the regular season champion of the conference.

As for the Panthers, they will be road warriors twice this week, at Notre Dame (17-10, 6-8) on Wednesday and at St. John's (15-11) on Saturday. They will close the regular season the following week with home contests against Providence and Rutgers. Before then, however, they should once again see an up arrow in the Monday polls from their current spot of 19 in the AP and 21 in the ESPN/USA Today. The Panthers won both of their contests since the last rankings and are riding a five-game winning streak. Sunday was their third victory over a top-five team this season and their 21st victory overall in 2009-10. And to think, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Jamie Dixon, you continue to amaze me.

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rhule20 said...

Great game and great win. It does not come close to making up for last year I will never recover from that. Mainly because I was a Pitt senior, who had student tickets to the Detroit final four. Pitt centers are similar to Steeler linebackers, they are always good. G McGhee looked like a retarded kid trying to catch butterflies last year and he has been more than consistently serviceable all year. I predict Pitt ends up a #3 seed in the tournament and hope they dont underachieve once again. joe paterno started swine flu

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Just another signature win in the Jamie Dixon Era.

This team has really come along way since the staart of the season. A good measure of a team is that they find ways to win games they probably have no business winning.

BTW, Scottie Reynolds is still an absolute beast!

NickDawg said...

Great Win! Hail PITT! You wont get this type of contest in the Big 10 or whatever they want to call themselves these days...

Unknown said...

It's still called the Big Ten.