Seton Hall @ Pittsburgh, 6:00PM
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Television: SNY, ESPN360
Radio: 770 WABC
Projected Starting Five: G-Theodore, G-Lawrence, G-Hazell, F-Robinson, F/C-Pope
Losers of their last two, Seton Hall (12-8, 3-6) will attempt to salvage their three game road trip when they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (16-6, 6-4) at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday night. The Panthers are reeling in their own right, having lost four of their last five and must beat the Pirates if they expect to remain ranked come Monday. On Wednesday, the Panthers lost handily (70-51) at West Virginia in a game that saw Pitt assistant, Tom Herrion, hit with a coin under his eye as fans threw trash (and coins) onto the court. Despite their poor play as of late, the Panthers will return home Saturday to begin a three game home-stand, where they are an impressive (11-1) on the year.
On January 24th, Seton Hall handed Pittsburgh their first true road loss of the season. At the Rock, the Pirates surprisingly presented a stout defensive game-plan in overcoming the Panthers, who they held to just 35% shooting. Despite being out rebounded by +10, the Pirates won the turnover battle at a margin of +10. Led by the physical play of Herb Pope and with Pittsburgh's poor shooting considered, the Pirates had enough to squeak out a three point victory.
Unfortunately, I don't believe tomorrow's game will come as easy for the Pirates. It's unlikely that the Panthers who shoot 44% on the year will shoot as poorly as they did two weeks ago. It's just as unlikely that the Pirates will be able to turn over the Panthers by a similar margin. College basketball is a game of adjustments, not only during in-game and halftime, but especially when you have to play a team twice. Playing twice a year is one thing, but seeing a team twice in two weeks, makes it undeniable that Jamie Dixon will have his squad better prepared this go-round.
In the first contest, Pitt's leading scorers, Gibbs and Wanamaker were held to a combined 7-of-25 shooting, while Herb Pope put forth his most memorable game of his Seton Hall career finishing with 19PTS/9REB on 8-of-12 from the floor. Saturday night will mark Pope's homecoming to Pittsburgh, a city just 20 miles from his hometown, Aliquippa. With family, friends and doubters alike scattered throughout the Petersen Events Center, Pope will unquestionably be full of emotion. Despite his struggles as of late, there's no doubt in my mind that he will be able to reproduce the beastly performance he displayed two weeks ago, breathing life into those who have counted him out over the years. Furthermore, A win tomorrow night would temporarily breathe life back into the postseason dream (which postseason is another story) for the Pirates. If they can record another upset in Pittsburgh, the Pirates will return home to face back-to-back unranked teams for the first time in conference play this season. The glories of the Big East conference.
The Panthers are a very tough out at the Petersen Events Center, SHU Athletics with their game preview:
AT THE PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER Although Pittsburgh has only been playing in the Petersen Events Center for eight years, they've taken little time in establishing a dominant home court advantage. The Panthers are 126-11 all-time in the building. Seton Hall is 1-3 at the Petersen Events Center.
In welcoming news to Pittsburgh fans, the Pirates are on a skid of their own writes Kyle Craig, of The Pitt-News:
In what might be welcome news to Panther fans, since defeating Pitt 64-61, Seton Hall has gone on a slide of its own losses, to South Florida and Villanova. Additionally, Pitt will return to the Petersen Events Center where it holds an 11-1 record this season.
Despite the snowstorm that has hammered Pittsburgh, the game will tip-off as scheduled at 6PM. As always, Let's Go Hall!