Pitt basketball seeks revenge vs. Rutgers
It was the low point in a season filled with them, so it's no wonder J.J. Moore is reluctant to relive Pitt's 62-39 loss to Rutgers last January.
“We try not to think about it a lot,” said the junior forward, who led the Panthers with 10 points. “We let the past be the past and focus on this year. We're playing better this year, so we're trying to go back and get this win on the road.”
What Moore will allow is that the No. 24 Panthers (12-2, 0-1 Big East) haven't let go of their most lopsided loss at Petersen Events Center.
That defeat saw Pitt, which led the nation in rebounding margin at plus-13.3, get beat on the boards (51-35), outscored in the paint (23-14) and commit 15 turnovers while shooting 21.1 percent.
“Individually, a lot of us keep watching and watching and playing it over and over to see what was our flaws,” Moore said. “Basically, our flaw was our defense. This year, we're playing a lot more defense than last year.”
Pitt can take some solace going into today's 11 a.m. game against the Scarlet Knights (9-3, 0-1) in knowing that it has won six straight at Rutgers Athletic Center.
Pitt's focus will be on stopping the Rutgers backcourt of sophomores Eli Carter and Myles Mack, who are averaging a combined 30.4 points a game, after allowing Cincinnati guards Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick and Jaquon Parker to combine for 47 in a 70-61 loss on Monday.
“Rutgers is guard-oriented. They're similar to Cincinnati in that regard,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “They really try to attack you off the dribble. They try to get Carter and Mack going. Their big guys are in there to get them shots, but they're athletic. As you see, the scoring is based on their two perimeter guys.”
Rutgers saw coach Mike Rice, the former Robert Morris coach who was a Pitt assistant in 2006-07, return after serving a three-game suspension only to lose, 78-53, at No. 7 Syracuse on Wednesday.
This is the Panthers' first Big East road trip, one where they will play at the raucous RAC and at No. 15 Georgetown in a four-day span.
“It's going to be a different type of experience for me,” Pitt freshman point guard James Robinson said. “Taking the trip to Rutgers, and handling our business there is going to be our first priority before we even think about Georgetown.
“I heard it gets pretty loud. It's a fun environment to play in, so it will be a good test for us to go in there and come out with a victory.”
Dixon doesn't want the Panthers to dwell on last year's loss to Rutgers, especially when they are coming off one to Cincinnati.
“Well, we've got plenty of motivation,” Dixon said. “We just lost. I don't think motivation is a problem right now, at this point, and I don't think it's been a problem all year.”