Insiders College Basketball Report

Pitt coming off successful week with road wins over West Virginia and Villanova.

For Pitt, there are good weeks in the Big East and great weeks.

Pitt just completed a great week, winning two road games against a pair of tough rivals -- West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl and then beating Villanova at the Pavilion, where the Wildcats almost never lose.

To make the Villanova triumph more meaningful, it was engineered by a pair of players from the Philadelphia area.

Guard Brad Wanamaker and forward Nasir Robinson combined for 36 points to lead Pitt to a 57-54 triumph over Villanova with leading scorer Ashton Gibbs on the bench for a second consecutive game with a knee injury. Villanova guard Corey Stokes also missed the game with a bum ankle.

Wanamaker, from Philadelphia Roman Catholic, had 21 points. Robinson, from nearby Chester, had 15.

"This game means a lot to me," said Wanamaker, a senior who was playing in front of friends and family. "Anytime you can come and play well and win it's special. I was a Villanova fan growing up."

Pitt had lost six consecutive games at The Pavilion and nine of the past 10 at the facility. The Panthers have three more road venues to conquer this season -- at St. John's, at Louisville and at South Florida -- in order to finish with a perfect record on the road.

"Our Philly guys played like Philly guys," coach Jamie Dixon said. "That's why I'll be staying in Philly and recruiting (Sunday)."

Pitt remains in the driver's seat in the Big East with only one loss. Entering the week, the closest to them was Notre Dame with three defeats.

--When Pitt beat Villanova on Feb. 12 it gave them 11 victories in their first 12 Big East games, a first in school history.

--Pitt has won its first six road games to start Big East play, a first for the school. Pitt is not intimidated on the road, winning 19 of its past 25 road games.

--Pitt has 10 consecutive years with at least 20 overall victories and 10 wins in the Big East Conference.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 -- Pitt had gone more than 17 years since its last win at the Pavilion before beating Villanova there on Feb. 12. Speaking of numbers, Villanova had won 46 consecutive games at the Pavilion.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have good players and a good coach and they share the ball. It is admirable in today's times. You got a lot of these guys that think they are going to play in the (NBA), but they got guys who just play, man, they just play to win. They don't force shots, they don't do things they can't do, they just do what they can do. It is kind of refreshing, actually. Well, tonight it wasn't, but, tonight it was ... I can't say what." -- West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins heaping praise on rival Pittsburgh after losing to the Panthers in Morgantown, W.Va.


--vs. South Florida, Feb. 16
KEY MATCHUPS: The only team that will walk on the floor that can beat Pitt on this night is Pitt itself. South Florida is trying to find an identity and apparently not looking in the right places while the Panthers are cruising toward the conference tournament with solid defense, strength on the boards and the ability to score. The only snare has been an injury that sidelined leading scorer Ashton Gibbs but Pitt is just shrugging that off.

--at St. John's, Feb. 19
This could be an intriguing game as St. John's is earning a reputation as a giant killer. First, the Johnnies slayed Duke, 93-78, with Dwight Hardy scoring 26 points; SJU also upset Connecticut, 89-72, with Hardy scoring 33. Hardy, in fact, has become one of the top scorers in the conference at 17 points a game entering the week. He is riding a true hot streak. Pitt's defense may be a whole better than both Duke and UConn. The Panthers play a disciplined game that is totally unselfish. This is great test prior to tournament time for the Panthers.

FUTURE'S MARKET: Pittsburgh seems ready to steamroll to the Big East regular-season championship and a double-bye for the conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. The Panthers had six games remaining entering the week, three of them at home, and that included USF twice. They also must play at Louisville and St. John's while hosting WVU and Villanova, both teams they defeated on the road.

--G Ashton Gibbs, Pitt's top scorer and best shot for All-America honors, missed both the WVU and Villanova games last week with a knee injury and the Panthers did not miss a beat.

--G Travon Goodall replaced the injured Ashton Gibbs in the Pittsburgh lineup for the WVU and Villanova games and scored 20 points with only one turnover combined in the two games.

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