For the third year in a row, the Pittsburgh Panthers start off Big East play a perfect 3-0. Pitt (15-1) defeated Marquette (11-5, 2-1) 89-81. The Panthers improved to 11-0 at the Petersen Events Center this season. Two high scoring teams lived up to their offensive reputations.
"We cut down our turnovers, that was an emphasis for this week," head coach Jamie Dixon said.
Pitt committed only ten turnovers, compared to 24 assists.
"When you're number one in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, and when you have a game like that, you want to work on getting back to where we were. That shows good focus for our guys," Dixon added."
"We shared the ball really well today and had everybody contribute," Brad Wanamaker said. "We have multiple guys who can come in and lead us in scoring in each and every game. That carries over to us being an unselfish team."
The game started off with back-to-back three-pointers by Ashton Gibbs.
Gibbs was 4-of-5 on three point attempts in the first half and finished with 19 points, leading all Pitt scorers. Brad Wanamaker added 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Gilbert Brown scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, and Gary McGhee added 12 points and 6 rebounds.
McGhee was aggressive all afternoon, with a pair of rattling dunks that stirred up the Oakland Zoo.
"This past week we've seen a better job of him finishing," Dixon said.
Dixon also added that McGhee has been working hard in practice with coaches on low post moves and capitalizing under the basket.
"The last couple games have given me lots of confidence," McGhee added.
Marquette junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom had a game-high 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting before fouling out late in the game. Odom-Johnson came into the today's game with back-to-back 20-point outings, including a 29 point effort vs. Rutgers.
"We didn't want him to get off to an early," Gibbs said.
They succeeded. Johnson-Odom shot just 3-of-9 from the field and missed all four of his three point attempts in the first half.
"He had a lot of transition buckets," explained Gibbs.
With 1:15 remaining in the first half, Pitt was up 16 points, their largest lead of the game. The Panthers went into halftime up by 11. In the second half, Marquette would not give up. The Golden Eagles outscored the Panthers 44-41 in the second half. Marquette shot 41.5% from the field as opposed to Pitt's 60%. Senior point guard Dwight Buycks scored 19 points, while fellow senior guard Jimmy Butler scored 17, hitting 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
The Panthers scored nearly a third of their total points from beyond the arc, connecting on 55.6% (10-of-18) of their three-point attempts.
"If you can score thirty percent of your points from threes, (we're) going to have a hard time beating anyone like that," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams.
Marquette had just two turnovers in the game, much to Williams' surprise.
"If that was the only thing you would tell me, I'd be happy with it," Williams said.