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Pitt basketball notebook: Madison Square Garden holds fond memories

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Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 6:36 p.m.

• Pitt might call Petersen Events Center home, but Madison Square Garden holds a special place in the Panthers' hearts. Not only was it the site of Jamie Dixon's first victory as Pitt's coach, but it's an arena where they have won 45 games. Dixon improved to 22-13 at the Garden, which hosts the Big East Tournament. The 63-47 victory over St. John's marked Pitt's last regular-season game at the Garden before the Panthers leave the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Dixon plans to return on a regular basis. “It's weird. We don't look at it that way,” Dixon said. “We love playing here, and we don't look at it as this being the last time we're going to play here. We're already signed up for a couple tournaments and events to play here, so I'm working on it and staying on top of it. It's a constant battle. We're positioned to come back and play here at the Garden, for obvious reasons.”

Lamar Patterson said Pitt placed a premium on rebounding drills following losses to Marquette and Notre Dame in which the Panthers were beaten on the boards by margins of nine and 15, respectively. The focus was on boxing out and being aggressive, given that Pitt has found that winning the rebounding battle is a formula to its success. Even so, St. John's finished with a 39-38 edge, including 15 offensive to Pitt's 11. “In all of our losses, coach gave us a number like negative-eight on the rebounding margin,” Patterson said. “Numbers don't lie. When we win, we usually outrebound teams. We didn't do it (Sunday), but that's usually the outcome, so we want to put the emphasis on rebounding.”

• Pitt (21-7, 9-6) is in a seventh-place tie with Villanova (18-10, 9-6). The Panthers return to Petersen Events Center against USF on Wednesday and Villanova on Sunday before playing their season finale at DePaul on March 9.

— Kevin Gorman

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