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No. 15 Pitt gets break before homestand

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By John Grupp
Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

The Pitt players passed one test Saturday, and they get another one this week. But it's on paper, not on wood.

The university is holding final exams this week, so the players had off Sunday and Monday to study, while coach Jamie Dixon went recruiting on the east coast.

"This team has improved a lot, there is no question about it," said Dixon, whose team has won seven in a row. "But we've got a lot of things to improve on."

No. 15 Pitt (9-1), fresh off a 74-68 victory against Oklahoma State in the Carquest Auto Parts Classic at Madison Square Garden, has the next week off before returning to play South Carolina State on Saturday to begin a three-game homestand.

The Panthers also play St. Francis (Pa.) and Wagner in their final tuneup before starting Big East play at Notre Dame on Dec. 27.

Redshirt sophomore Lamar Patterson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against Oklahoma State for his first career double-double. The rebounds and assists were career highs for Patterson, who was aiming to post an elusive triple-double.

There have been three triple-doubles in Pitt history — Ricardo Greer (23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) in 1998, Darelle Porter (13-10-11) in 1991 and Keith Starr (13-11-11) in 1974.

Junior point guard Tray Woodall, out for the next month with groin and abdomen injuries, missed by three rebounds against Rider (17-10-7) in mid-November. Former Panther Brad Wanamaker flirted with a triple-double in a couple of games last season.

Patterson and Woodall have a friendly competition to see who might get the first one at Pitt in 13 years.

"I think I can (get it)," Patterson said. "Me and Travon are always messing around. 'I'm going to get it before you.'"

There have only been five triple-doubles in NCAA Division I college basketball this season, including Shabazz Napier of Connecticut and T.J. McConnell of Duquesne.

Patterson has the skill set to do it. He's an excellent passer, he's a committed rebounder, and he starts at small forward for a top-25 team with an improving offense. After the game, for the second time in three days, Dixon mentioned playing Patterson more at shooting guard this season.

"We've got to use him more," Dixon said. "We are finding ourselves as we go forward offensively. (The offense) we were running earlier in the year, we're not running now. We're going to find it. We're going to get to it. We know what it is. It's just getting them all on the floor to do it."

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