GETTING INSIDE When the 2009-10 season finishes and the current Pittsburgh squad goes into the school record book, the word that best describes these Panthers, among others, will be tenacious.
The difference between Pitt getting a good seed in the NCAA Tournament and being among the numerous other Big East Confrerence teams on the bubble is two victories in situations when it wouldn't have taken much for the typical team to mentally pack it in and start preparing for the next game.
In January, the Panthers were down by five in the final minute against Louisville but came back to knock off the Cardinals in overtime. They did that one better on Feb. 12, coming back from seven down to force overtime against West Virginia, then outlasting the Mountaineers in the third extra session.
That game with WVU may go down as the college basketball game of the year. After the Panthers forced overtime, the Mountaineers twice came up big to extend the game -- they hit a three-pointer to get to the second overtime, and Da'Sean Butler got fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three free throws to ensure the third OT.
The victory left the Panthers with an 8-4 record in Big East play, 19-6 overall. Take away that win and the victory over the Cardinals, and Pitt is even in the Conference.
--In a triple-overtime game, bench play is even more important than normal, and the Panthers reserves won their battle with the Mountaineers. Pitt got 34 points off its bench, with both Gilbert Brown (16) and Travon Woodall (12) in double figures. WVU had just seven, all by John Flowers.
--Bradley Wanamaker got his fourth career double-double against West Virginia, with 24 points and 10 assists. It's the first of his double-doubles that combined points with assists; the others were points and rebounds.
ON THE SPOT: Pitt's shot selection declined as the game wore on against West Virginia, as the Panthers made just seven of their 18 shots in the three extra sessions. Particularly poor was the three-point shooting, where the team went 1-for-7. Had it not been for a 15-for-19 effort at the free throw line during those 15 minutes, that would likely have cost Pittsburgh the victory.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that we did a better job at keeping our composure than some of our fans did. When those guys went out, you had to wonder. We found a way. I think we used Gilbert Brown more. He came up big. He made some big plays down the stretch, which were key for us.
"We had almost everyone in foul trouble. I thought that we were going to run out of guys, but we found a way.'' -- Pitt coach Jamie Dixon on how his team played with foul trouble in the three-overtime victory over West Virginia.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Pitt knocked off West Virginia in triple overtime, avenging an earlier loss with a 98-95 thriller. Combined with a victory over Robert Morris earlier in the week, that left Pitt with a 19-6 record, 8-4 in the Big East two-thirds of the way through the conference season.
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.
Pittsburgh 83, Seton Hall 58
Pittsburgh 77, Robert Morris 53
Pittsburgh 98, West Virginia 95 (3 OT)
at Marquette, Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time
vs. Villanova, Sunday at noon at the Petersen Events Center
at Notre Dame, Wednesday, Feb. 24
at St. John's, Saturday, Feb. 27
vs. Providence, Thursday, March 4
IN FOCUS: Pitt gets a crack at its second top-five opponent in a 10-day period when Villanova arrives on Feb. 21. The guard-heavy Wildcats will be a challenge to the Panther backcourt, particularly Wildcat senior and Big East Player of the Year candidate Scottie Reynolds.
--G Travon Woodall came off the bench to score 12 points against West Virginia. Prior to this, he hadn't scored more than five in a Big East game all season.
--C Gary McGhee had 12 rebounds against West Virginia, a career high. He was close to being the goat anyway, however, as his foul late in the second overtime allowed the Mountaineers to come back and force the third extra session.
--G Ashton Gibbs led the Panthers with 24 points in the West Virginia game. It marked the ninth time this season Gibbs has scored 20 or more points.
Pitt Basketball Notebook II
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