Know Your Opponent- Pittsburgh

It wasn't long ago that the Pitt Panthers were the number one college basketball team in the land. Riding a four-game win streak and sitting at number four in the current polls, the Panthers will welcome the UC Bearcats to town Saturday afternoon for a little Valentines Day tussle. Here's everything you need to know about the Pitt Panthers.

Pittsburgh (22-2, 9-2 in the Big East) hasn't taken the court since Monday night, when they successfully completed the season sweep in their series with close rival West Virginia. Senior forward Sam Young notched his 10th output of the season with at least 20 points in a 70-59 win.

Fellow Panther big man, sophomore DeJuan Blair, is the second part of Pittsburgh's one-two punch. Young leads the team with 17.9 points per game, ranking him seventh in the Big East, while Blair is tied for the conference lead with 12.6 rebounds per game while adding 15.3 points of his own each night out and a team-high 1.7 steals per game.

"It's going to be tough," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin Wednesday. "The fact that our big guys have yet to play against DeJuan Blair, Tyrell Biggs, Sam Young, and the intensity and physicality that Pitt brings to the table is a major concern of mine."

Biggs, a senior forward, stands 6-feet-8-inches and averages seven points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4 percent from three.

The Panther big men should prove to be a tough test for Mike Williams, Yancy Gates, and Steven Toyloy, all of which have been playing strong lately but as coach Cronin said, haven't faced a test as tough as what the Panthers will throw at them. The big match up everyone will be watching will be Blair vs. Gates, who his coming off of a career-high 21 points against St. John's Wednesday.

"I always look forward to go up against guys like Blair," said Gates. "I got a chance to watch him, he's a physical player. I've watched a lot of film on him on the boards because he's the best rebounder in the Big East. He's just a strong, physical rebounder."

But that's not all. Senior Levance Fields brings experience to the guard position. In playing over 31 minutes each game, Fields leads the Big East with 7.4 assists per game and a 3.9-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio.

But the Panthers can get it done on the defensive end of the court as well. Pitt ranks in at fourth in the conference in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.

"They're a very good team, real athletic, play solid defense. It's going to be a good ball game," said Williams.

The one Pittsburgh defensive stat UC fans may look at in a positive light is the Panther's three-point field goal defense, where they sit 12th in the Big East. Cincinnati's shooters, including Deonta Vaughn, Larry Davis, and Alvin Mitchell, may look to catch fire from three-point land early in an attempt to best the Panthers.

One thing's for certain this Valentines Day- love may be in the air, but don't look for any inside Pitt's Petersen Events Center. Tipp off is set for 4 p.m.


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