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Pitt continues difficult portion of schedule

| Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, 10:15 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon reacts during the second half against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.

So this is what Pitt signed up for when it joined the ACC.

Back-to-back road games against No. 12 Miami and No. 9 North Carolina, following a home game against No. 7 Virginia.

“It's going to hit you at some point in conference,” said coach Jamie Dixon, whose Panthers visit Miami, which improved five spots in the poll follwing wins over Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, at 7 p.m. Tuesday. “No one gets to slide through without playing a stretch like this.

“You want to be in the best conference, you're going to play (good) teams, and you're going to play them back-to-back, or three out of four.

“Some teams had it early in the year,” Dixon added. “Some teams had it late. For us, this is the stretch where all the ranked teams are.”

Dixon could have added that the Panthers enter this stretch at their lowest point as a team.

Since winning their first three ACC games against Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, the Panthers haven't recorded back-to-back wins.

Pitt's 86-82 victory at Notre Dame on Jan. 9 was the final game of a season-high 10-game winning streak.

What's more, the Panthers' 64-50 loss against Virginia last week was their fourth double-digit setback in ACC play.

“We've got to play confident and believe we can win,” Dixon said. “We're coming off a loss where we didn't play well. We need to play well going forward.”

On the other hand, the Panthers face Miami seeking to avoid their first two-game losing streak of the year.

“We've won road games. We've lost home games,” Dixon said. “There's no one going through long runs of wins in this conference.

“You've got to play too many good (teams) and there's not a lot of separation. We've got to put a string together.”

Miami coach Jim Larranaga is concerned about only having one day to prepare for Pitt following a win at Georgia Tech.

Larranaga noted that the Panthers are 17-0 this year when scoring at least 70 points.

“We really have to rely on rebounding and defense to keep you in the game,” Larranaga said.

Dixon, though, realizes the Panthers average 53.0 points in four ACC losses.

“We feel we can go down there and play our best basketball,” Dixon said.

“We have the guys. We have the ability. It's still up to us, no matter what ranked team we're playing.”

John Harris is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jharris@tribweb.comor via Twitter @jharris_trib.

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