No. 23 Pitt welcomes struggling USF
By Kevin Gorman
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jamie Dixon can be defensive when it comes to Pitt's accomplishments this season, wasting no time pointing out that the Panthers have an impressive road record in Big East play.
The only problem is that No. 23 Pitt (21-7, 9-6) has won more conference games away from Petersen Events Center than it has at home heading into a game against South Florida (10-16, 1-13) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Panthers are 5-3 on the road and 4-3 at the Pete, where they blew a 16-point lead in a 51-42 loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 18. Pitt is one of only three Big East teams to have a worse record at home than they do on the road (Cincinnati and Providence are the others).
Pitt also has lost at home to Cincinnati and Marquette, and Dixon realizes that the home record could cost the Panthers a chance at the Big East regular-season title.
“To win a conference championship, you can't lose three home games, and that's what we've done,” Dixon said. “But our road record puts us in a position to win a conference championship.
“We didn't do it at home. That's obvious when you look at it. We've got to get that resolved. We've got to play well Wednesday. We've got to defend well and we've got to execute offensively.”
USF, which has lost nine in a row, might be the perfect antidote. Not only are the Bulls in last place in the league, but they also rank last in scoring offense (59.0 ppg), scoring margin (minus-3.8), field-goal percentage (.388) and assists (11.35 apg).
The lack of an inside presence has hampered the production of Anthony Collins, who torched Pitt for 22 points, six assists and two steals in a 56-47 victory at the Pete last year. The sophomore guard is averaging 8.8 points and 6.4 assists.
USF's is led by 6-foot-9 redshirt junior forward Victor Rudd, who leads the Bulls in scoring (11.5) and rebounding (7.1), and 6-8 senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who adds 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. They also are the top two 3-point shooters, which could cause matchup problems.
“They're very athletic and they really attack the basket with their wings,” Dixon said. “The big kid, Fitzpatrick, is the challenge for us in preparing for a guy that plays on the outside, the perimeter. …
“He's a big — he can play the 4 or the 5 — but he's a face-up guy first.”
USF swept the series with Pitt last season, so the Panthers know not to take the Bulls lightly. With two home games remaining — Pitt hosts Villanova at noon Sunday — the Panthers also want to re-establish the Pete as a place opponents hate to play.
“They're not having a great year this year, but that would give them all the more energy to come out and play even harder against us on our home floor,” Pitt redshirt sophomore swingman Cameron Wright said. “We've just got to protect our home court.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt aware of Carolina schools’ history in dominating ACC Tournament
- ACC Tournament manages to deliver an inherent history lesson
- Pitt’s oldest known living football letterman turns 100
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Wrestling programs look ahead to NCAA tourney
- Former Pitt coach Majors in stable condition after heart procedure
- Pitt loses quarterbacks coach, hires running backs coach
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson