No Trap Here

If Dave Wannstedt coached the Pitt men's basketball team this week, the Panthers likely would find mousetraps hidden around their locker room.

No. 4 Pittsburgh (24-2, 11-2 Big East) faces DePaul (8-18, 0-13) today at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center, and Wannstedt would call it a trap game. The Blue Demons have lost 13 straight games, all in the Big East, including 92-69 to Pitt Feb. 7 in suburban Chicago.

Panthers basketball coach Jamie Dixon doesn't use theatrics like Wannstedt.

"We have a game coming up against DePaul, and obviously we know DePaul because we just played them a couple weeks ago,'' Dixon said. "So, we know what they're trying to do. They're starting a different lineup than they did the last time, so it's a little different as far as personnel. But we'll be ready to get back on the floor to play another team.

"It's really an opportunity for us. We've got five days between games, and I think our guys are just anxious to be playing again. I talked to our guys immediately after the (Connecticut) game and told them that we can't react to just one game. (Beating the No. 1 team) really doesn't change who we are or how we prepare for a game, and our team knows that.''

Following a loss at No. 21 Villanova Jan. 28, Pitt has bounced back with six consecutive wins. The Panthers registered its first win against the nation's No. 1 team with a 76-68 victory at Connecticut Monday. Pitt improved to 1-13 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.

Pitt senior point guard Levance Fields, who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.15) and is second in assists (7.6 per game), is the Panthers' court general. And he won't allow a letdown, either, either.

"We're not that kind of team, because we don't get too high after wins or too low after a loss,'' Fields said. "We've shown that we've been able to bounce back after losses and even after big wins, from the first one at Georgetown, we didn't let down any after that. And we won't after UConn.''

Pitt has been successful this season largely due to its big three. Fields, sophomore center DeJuan Blair and senior forward Sam Young are among the nation's top players at their respective positions. Blair ranks fifth nationally in rebounding (12.3 per game) and leads the nation in offensive rebounds (5.6). He is also ranked 18th in field-goal percentage (60.0), while Young is rated 76th in scoring (17.9).

Sophomore Dar Tucker leads DePaul in scoring with 18.4 points per game, while sophomore Mac Koshwal (13.5 points, 10 rebounds) and junior Will Walker (12.7 points) are the other top players.

"We're trying to win the Big East, so we have to win the rest of our games,'' Pitt junior guard Jermaine Dixon said. "That's why we won't have a letdown for DePaul. And we know about them from the last time we played them.

"So, we'll be ready. They played us tough in the first half at their place, so we know we can't take them lightly. And we'll prepare for them just the way we prepare for any team in the league.''

DePaul and Pitt meet for the second time this season and sixth time in series history. Pitt is 4-1 all-time against the Blue Demons. The Panthers have won all four games against DePaul since it joined the Big East in 2005-06.

Panther Digest Top Stories