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Pitt turns focus to Seton Hall

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon watches as J.J. Moore goes in for a second-half dunk against Syracuse on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2013, at Petersen Events Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

Moments after Pitt's signature win of the season, one that should resonate with the NCAA Tournament selection committee, Jamie Dixon congratulated his Panthers.

Then he told them to get ready for Seton Hall.

The Pitt coach knows that only a week ago, the Panthers followed their most dominant performance of the season with one of their sloppiest. Two days after the 38-point victory over DePaul, they lost by three at Louisville.

Don't blame Dixon for worrying about how Pitt (18-5, 6-4) will perform with another two-day turnaround when it plays Seton Hall (13-9, 2-7) at 9 p.m. Monday in a Big East game at Petersen Events Center.

“We'll see,” Dixon said. “I didn't think we played up to our standards (last) Monday. We have that same thing. It's unique we have had so many of these quick turnarounds like this. But we have to be ready. We have to focus on Seton Hall.”

Where the 65-55 victory over No. 6 Syracuse marked Pitt's fifth victory in the past six games, Seton Hall is enduring a losing stretch. It has lost seven of its past eight games, including a 65-59 home loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.

“We've got to continue to build off this win,” Lamar Patterson said, dismissing the short break. “It's not that difficult. We'll definitely have our legs ready to go by Monday.”

Pitt has the advantage of playing back-to-back games at he Pete, where the Panthers are 11-2 this season and benefit from the vocal Oakland Zoo student section.

Pitt has won the rebounding battle in five of its past six games — it was even at Providence — and Dixon stressed that it must continue against a Seton Hall team led by the frontcourt of 6-foot-6 swingman Fuquan Edwin (16.6 points, 6.0 rebounds), 290-pound center Gene Teague (12.0, 7.7) and 6-9 forward Brandon Mobley (9.4, 5.6).

The Panthers can't look past the Pirates, even if they know their most difficult three-game stretch of the season awaits: They visit Cincinnati Saturday and Marquette on Feb. 16 before hosting Notre Dame on Feb. 18.

“It's not like it gets easier,” Dixon said. “I think every game is a must-win. That's the kind of standard we've developed here and play with.

“We were extremely disappointed with how we played against Louisville. We didn't get it done with a three-point game on the road against a good team. You've got to finish off and get it done here (Saturday), and we did. We were down after that game because we didn't feel we played well — or up to our standards.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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