Pitt Gets Set For Loyola Marymount

It's Pitt's last game before final exams next week. The Panthers will look to go 9-0, but not before facing a stiff test from Loyola-Marymount. Lions' head coach Max Good a former Panther Jaron Brown's (2001-04) prep school coach.

Jamie Dixon was playing overseas when Loyola-Marymount made an incredible run to the Elite Eight in 1990.

That team, overcoming the tragic loss of Hank Gathers earlier that season, is still one of the most talked about stories in the history of college basketball.

Dixon recalled growing up as the same time as Gathers, but says he never met him.

Interestingly, though, he says playing overseas in 1990--before social media, texting, e-mail, and internet--he was well-aware of the impact the Lions had on the game that year, and how it inspired those around the sport.

"I used to play pickup games with those guys, I was just getting out of college," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "It wasn't until I came back to the states that I realized the impact."

That 1990 team knocked off defending champion Michigan to get to the Sweet 16 that year, and led the nation in scoring that year.

This 6-2 Loyola-Marymount team that comes to the Petersen Events center tonight doesn't have Bo Kimble like they did in 1990. They do have a very talented point guard in Anthony Ireland. Ireland enters tonight's game averaging 18.9 points and 5.9 assists per game, in over 34 minutes a game.

"He's a very experienced guard, played a lot of minutes, has the ball in his hand a lot of the time," Dixon added. "He's a decision-maker, a playmaker and a scorer, all at the same time."

What's interesting is that this could be a Loyola-Marymount team that could be on the verge of something big in the near future. They might not be too far off from making its first NCAA Tournament since that 1990 season. Last Monday, they lost to Vanderbilt by one, 78-77.

The rest of the starting lineup, outside of Ireland, is either freshman or sophomore.

Loyola-Marymount: Anthony Ireland (SR, G, 5-10, 175), Evan Payne (SO, 6-2, 195), C.J Blackwell (SO, G/F, 6-5, 235), Gabe Levin (FR, 6-7, 230), Ben Dickinson (SO, F, 6-9, 230)

Pitt:James Robinson (SO, 6-3, 200), Cameron Wright (JR, 6-4, 205), Lamar Patterson (SR, 6-5, 225), Mike Young (FR, 6-8, 245), Talib Zanna (SR, 6-8, 245)

Dixon said one of the challenges in defending Ireland, like defending Frazier, is taking away a side. For Frazier, it was forcing everything left, away from his right side. Frazier still answered with 25 points. With Ireland, it will be trying to force everything right, away from his preferential left side.

Dixon has been getting tremendous performances from a upperclassmen, specifically Patterson, Zanna and Wright. Even Wright, who seemed like he had an ff night from a 2013-14 standards, he's still averaging.14.3 points a game in his last four.

Even with that experience, the younger players have been contributing good defense. Even when Robinson had to sit most of Tuesday's game with foul trouble, Dixon says he's comfortable putting Newkirk in, or any of the younger players. He doesn't feel there's anyone that's a liability on the court, even in defensive situations.

"You want to develop them, and you want to keep them going," Dixon added. "You're going to have injuries and foul trouble. Pretty much in every situation, we've been able to sustain it. That's something you have to prepare for."

From an injury standpoint, Chris Jones has been playing with an injured hand. He's appeared in all eight games this season. Dixon said that Jones will put off surgery on that hand until after the season.

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