McGhee gets another crack at prep nemesis

| Friday, March 18, 2011

Gary McGhee will get his wish. The Pitt senior center grew up in Indiana, playing against — and losing to — Matt Howard, Butler's star forward. Now the two will face off Saturday in a third-round NCAA Tournament game.

McGhee and Howard were post players and battled as part of the high school Class of 2007. McGhee attended Anderson Highland; Howard starred for Connersville.

McGhee has never beaten Howard.

"It's an 0-fer on one side," McGhee said. "Four in high school, probably about three in AAU."

When Howard scored the game-winner in Butler's 60-58 victory over No. 9 seed Old Dominion on Thursday, it meant McGhee will get another shot at his nemesis.

Howard could be in for a surprise. The chiseled 6-foot-11, 250-pound McGhee bears no resemblance to the player he used to bully in high school.

"He might look at me a little different," McGhee said. "He might feel me pushing back on him a little bit more."

• In its first game since getting outrebounded in a Big East quarterfinal loss to Connecticut, Pitt held a 50-27 rebounding edge against UNC Asheville. McGhee grabbed 11, Gilbert Brown nine and even 5-11 point guard Travon Woodall snared five, one off his season high. "We have to be the best rebounding team in the country," Woodall said. "We can't just sit here and talk about it."

• When UNC Asheville's Matt Dickey scored with 1 second left in the first half, it continued a trend of the Panthers allowing baskets at the end of the halves. Dickey's coast-to-coast layup marked the 10th time this season Pitt has given up points in the final 5 seconds of a half. From first-half buzzer-beaters by Marquette, South Florida and West Virginia to game-winners by Dwight Hardy of St. John's and Kemba Walker of Connecticut, Pitt has suffered end-of-half defensive breakdowns. Texas, Robert Morris, Rutgers and Louisville also got late points against the Panthers.

• Pitt junior forward Nasir Robinson said he didn't know it was Pitt radio color analyst Dick Groat he leveled while diving for a loose ball in the second half. The 80-year-old Groat was knocked from his chair, his glasses flying. As Robinson stood up and hurried back to the court, Groat, a college basketball Hall of Famer, got some help to his chair and, after a moment, wiped off his glasses and continued to call the action. "I didn't know who it was until they told me in the locker room," Robinson said. "As long as he was OK and I was OK, it's good."

• Dixon's father, Jim, had some good company behind the Pitt bench. Jim Dixon, a Los Angeles native, was sitting beside Miami Heat president Pat Riley.

Photo Galleries

Pitt vs. UNC Asheville

Pitt vs. UNC Asheville

Pitt vs. UNC Asheville during second round NCAA action at the Verizon Center March 17, 2011. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

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