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Tradition is still important with rivals Pitt, Duquesne in City Game

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 7:50 p.m.
Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon yells to his team as in the first half of the Panthers' game against Oakland Nov. 17, 2012, at Petersen Events Center. AP

With Pitt having won the last 11 meetings against Duquesne by an average of 15.2 points per game, the annual City Game may be more tradition than heated rivalry.

That doesn't make it any less important to fans — last season's game drew the largest crowd ever for a City Game (15,880) — or Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. The matchup is takes place Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

“I think tradition is important to everybody, but it's more important in Pittsburgh,” Dixon said. “Sometimes people ask, because we've won a few games lately, why we continue, and it's because it's the right thing to do. You're never bigger than an institution or a tradition. I think we understand that. I know how much it's meant to a lot of people, and if it means something to a lot of people, it means something to us.”

The Panthers' 11-game winning streak over Duquesne (4-3) is the longest in the 81-year history of the series. Pitt has won 30 of the last 33 games.

But this is also the first year since 1916-17 that Pitt (7-1) and rival West Virginia will not meet, thanks to the Mountaineers' move to the Big 12. Robert Morris also is not on the Panthers' schedule, and senior center Dante Taylor said that brings more significance to the City Game.

“West Virginia was our rival and everyone always looked forward to those games,” he said. “Right now we have to treat this like that one and just bring it.”

Taylor said he and the other Pitt upperclassmen have explained the City Game's importance to the newcomers, including freshman point guard James Robinson, the reigning Big East rookie of the week.

“They've been telling me about it pretty much since the last game ended,” said Robinson, who grew up near Washington, D.C., and played against Duquesne freshman Derrick Colter in Maryland. “I'm excited to get my first taste of the rivalry. I know it's going to be an exciting game, a lot of fun, very competitive.”

Duquesne is coming off a win over Maine — its third victory in a row — in which the Dukes hit 12 3-pointers. Opponents are shooting 31.4 percent from behind the arc against Pitt, which Dixon said isn't awful but his team still needs to do a better job of guarding the perimeter.

“Nobody's seemed to do it against us for an entire game, we've just had some teams that have hit them early,” Dixon said. “I think sometimes we're surprised by where teams are going to shoot it early in games because we may not shoot from that distance. We can't be surprised by that.”

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