GETTING INSIDE Pittsburgh has the best winning percentage in Big East Conference play during the last eight seasons. The Panthers own winning records against conference powers such as Syracuse, Connecticut and Georgetown during that time.
But for some reason, Pitt always seems to struggle with Marquette, especially in Milwaukee. The Panthers are 0-3 in games at Marquette since the Golden Eagles joined the Big East Conference. When Pitt last visited Marquette in February 2008, the Panthers were handed a 72-54 setback, one of the largest margins of defeat of the Jamie Dixon era.
Pitt travels to Marquette Thursday night. This is an important game that might go a long way in determining Big East tournament seeding. Marquette is 6-5 in conference play heading into Saturday's game against South Florida. Pitt is 8-4 after beating West Virginia Friday night.
PITT 98, WEST VIRGINIA 95 (3 OT): Pitt erased a seven-point deficit in the final 45 seconds of regulation to force overtime, then outlasted the Mountaineers in three overtimes.
West Virginia missed three free throws in the final minute to open the door for the Panthers, who burst through without blinking an eye. Travon Woodall cut the lead to three on a jumper with 31 seconds remaining. Nasir Robinson forced a turnover on the inbounds play. Bradley Wanamaker grabbed the loose ball and saved it from going out of bounds. His desperation pass found Woodall, who then found Ashton Gibbs in the corner for the game-tying 3-pointer with 26 seconds left.
Gibbs and Wanamaker led Pitt with 24 points apiece.
The victory vaulted Pitt into a tie with West Virginia and Georgetown for third place in the conference standings.
--Pitt finished the Seton Hall game shooting 51.7 percent from the field. That marked its best performance in 12 games.
--The Panthers focused on stopping Jeremy Hazell on defense, and the effort paid off in the victory over Seton Hall. Pitt held the Big East's second-leading scorer to two points on a 1-for-7 performance from the field.
ON THE SPOT: Pitt has to fix its rebounding problems. The Panthers on Friday were outrebounded for the fourth time in their last five Big East games.
West Virginia outrebounded Pitt 51-44 on Friday night. Last week in at the WVU Coliseum, the Mountaineers outrebounded Pitt by 15. That's the most Pitt has been outrebounded in a game in almost two years.
Only one player had double figure rebounds Friday night. Gary McGhee had 12, and seven of those came after regulation.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we really struggled the last couple of games when our offense was stagnant. You didn't see a lot of movement and that really hurt us. Even in the games we won we got away from what we do best. Tonight was a prime example of what we need to do on offense.'' -- Pitt forward Gilbert Brown said after the Seton Hall game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Pitt's victory over West Virginia on Friday left it 8-4 in the Big East, tied for third place. That's not a bad place to be, since the top four teams get a double bye in the conference tournament.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Nasir Robinson, C Gary McGhee, G Brad Wanamaker, G Ashton Gibbs, G Jermaine Dixon. Key Subs -- G-F Gilbert Brown, F Dante Taylor, G Travon Woodall.
South Florida 70, Pittsburgh 61
West Virginia 70, Pittsburgh 51
Pittsburgh 83, Seton Hall 58
Pittsburgh 77, Robert Morris 53
Pittsburgh 98, West Virginia 95 (3 OT)
at Marquette, Thursday night at 9 p.m. Eastern Time
vs. Villanova, Sunday at noon at the Petersen Events Center
at Notre Dame, Wednesday, Feb. 23
--Ashton Gibbs tied a season high with six 3-point field goals against West Virginia. He also made six in a victory against Syracuse earlier this season.
--Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown did not score when Pitt lost at West Virginia last week, 70-51. On Friday night, they combined for 40 points. Wanamaker had 24 and Brown had 16 off the bench.
--Travon Woodall, the backup point guard who was forced into extended minutes because starter Jermaine Dixon fouled out, had his best game of the season. Woodall had 12 points, six assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes.
Pitt Basketball Notebook I
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