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Pitt notebook: Double bye bites Panthers again in Big East tourney

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon looks on as Dante Taylor comes off the court bleeding from his eye during the second half against Syracuse during their Big East Tournament quarterfinal game Thursday, March 14, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

Everything fell into place on the final day of the regular season for Pitt to earn a top-four seed and double bye in the Big East Tournament. The Panthers won while Notre Dame and Syracuse lost.

For the fourth time in five years, the Panthers were beaten in their first game in the league tourney in a 62-59 loss to Syracuse on Thursday in a Big East quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. It was an unpleasant ending for a program that reached the Big East championship game seven times in eight years between 2001-08.

But Pitt coach Jamie Dixon doesn't blame it on the double bye.

“I think it's that you're going to play a good team. Most likely, it's going to be a top-20 team,” Dixon said. “In other conferences, it's not. But that's the way it is in this conference.

“It gets discussed a lot. You've got to play better. We were healthy. We were rested. We just didn't play well enough in the first half and played better in the second half. I don't know how that has anything to do with a double bye. You're playing against a good team. You've got to play well for 40 minutes.”

• Pitt lost backup center Dante Taylor for the final 11:06 of the second half after an elbow opened a cut above his right eye. The cut required six stitches to close. The 6-foot-9 senior finished with no points and one rebound in nine minutes.

• Taylor's injury forced freshman Steven Adams (six points, seven rebounds) to play a season-high 31 minutes. The Panthers held a 26-10 second-half rebounding edge and outscored the Orange, 28-14, in the paint. “It was kind of physical,” Adams said. “Dante got it real bad. It was physical, but the first half they were more physical than us. That's why we couldn't do anything inside. In the second half, the stats speak for themselves. We started being more physical than them.”

• Not only was Syracuse senior James Southerland's 6-for-6 shooting from 3-point range the most allowed by Pitt in the Big East tourney but a league championship record for most 3s without a miss. It bettered the mark of 5 of 5 set by Syracuse'sGreg Monroe against Pitt in 1987. “We gave him open looks,” Dixon said of Southerland. “You can't let guys get started, get confidence and get in a rhythm.”

­— Kevin Gorman

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