GETTING INSIDE Pittsburgh is fond of calling Madison Square Garden its home away from home, but the Panthers have not had much success in the Garden in their last two games there.
Pitt lost to Indiana in the Jimmy V Classic in its only game there this season Dec. 8, 2009. The 74-64 loss was one of the Panthers' worst performances of the season. And in last year's Big East Tournament, West Virginia stunned Pitt in a quarterfinal game, 74-60, sending the Panthers home early from the tournament it had won a year earlier.
Pitt will try to change its luck in New York City Saturday at noon when the Panthers play St. John's. Pitt has won the last four games against the Red Storm, including a 63-53 victory in January at the Petersen Events Center.
Before its last two losses at Madison Square Garden, Pitt had won 10 of its previous 12 games there. The last time Pitt lost to St. John's at Madison Square Garden was a 55-50 setback in 2006.
NOTRE DAME 68, PITT: 53: The best perimeter defensive team was no match for Notre Dame's arsenal of torrid 3-point shooters Wednesday. The Irish made 10 of their first 14 shots from behind the 3-point arc, built an early lead and were never threatened by the Panthers.
Pitt, by contrast, could only make 4 of its 18 attempts from 3-point range. The Irish led 35-27 at halftime and by as many as 24 in the second half. Jermaine Dixon led Pitt with 13 points and Ashton Gibbs added 11. Gibbs was 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
--The Pitt victory over Villanova was the team's 21st on the season, and its 10th in the Big East. It is the ninth year in a row the Panthers have had at least 20 victories overall and 10 in the Big East.
--Pitt continues to have Villanova's number at home. The Panthers have won seven in a row over the Wildcats in Pittsburgh, and haven't lost to the team at home since the 1995-96 season.
ON THE SPOT: Pitt has to do a better job of getting to the free throw line against St. John's than it did against Notre Dame. The Panthers got to the foul line only seven times against the Irish.
The Panthers had been averaging 24 free throw attempts per game, which was fourth in the Big East. Notre Dame dared Pitt into settling for jumpers, and the Panthers took the bait. They were only 4-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc.
Pitt got only seven points combined from its starting frontcourt duo of Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think we have any big shot guy. We have multiple guys that can step up at the end of the game. There comes a time in every game when a player is going to catch fire and make shots or that guy finds the mismatch in order to get other guys scoring. We're a different team in that overall, we're great players. It's what makes us strong.'' -- Gilbert Brown, after the Panthers victory over Villanova this past Sunday.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The Panthers extended their winning streak to five by beating Marquette on the road and Villanova at home, but they then came crashing down to earth with their one-sided loss at Notre Dame.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Nasir Robinson, C Gary McGhee, G Bradley Wanamaker, G Ashton Gibbs, G Jermaine Dixon. Key Subs -- G-F Gilbert Brown, F Dante Taylor, G Travon Woodall.
Pittsburgh 98, West Virginia 95 (3OT)
Pittsburgh 58, Marquette 51
Pittsburgh 70, Villanova 65
Notre Dame 68, Pittsburgh 53
against St. John's Saturday at noon at Madison Square Garden
vs. Providence, Thursday, March 4
vs. Rutgers, Saturday, March 6
IN FOCUS: St. John's is in critical need of a signature win if it hopes to sneak back into NCAA Tournament consideration.
--Nasir Robinson, Pitt's starting power forward, was held scoreless for the fourth time this season against Notre Dame. Robinson has scored in double figures only twice in 15 Big East games.
--Reserve point guard Travon Woodall continues to give Jamie Dixon good minutes off the bench. Woodall contributed eight points with no turnovers against Notre Dame. He has 31 points and two turnovers in the last four games.
--Gilbert Brown was 0 for 5 from 3-point range against Notre Dame. Brown is 1-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc over his last five games.
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