Well, I guess those odds makers over in Vegas knew what they were doing in setting that 10 point line today. Pittsburgh finally got in the win column in BIG EAST play and broke out of their offensive slump in a big way against the Friars. The Panthers ended up a fantastic 11-20 from downtown, with a 7-12 performance in the 1st half to help pull away and never look back.
Ashton Gibbs scored 22 points — including 14 straight during a late first-half run — as Pittsburgh beat Providence 86-74 on Wednesday night to end an eight-game losing streak.Trayvon Woodall added 17 points and nine assists in his second game back from groin and abdominal injuries as the Panthers (12-9, 1-7 Big East) won for the first time in five weeks.
Pittsburgh was in control towards the end of the first half, and pretty much all of the 2nd. Providence was able to make it somewhat interesting halfway through the last stanza, but any time they threatened the Panthers easily scored multiple quick buckets to regain a comfortable lead.
Despite Pittsburgh having their typical strong teams, the Friars have been able to inexplicably play the Panthers well over the last several years. After upsetting them at home when ranked #1, PC lost two tough games the last two seasons early on in conference play before the wheels completely fell off both seasons. Ashton Gibbs beat Providence on a buzzer beater in 2010, and a Gerard Coleman miscue helped Pitt escape late at the Dunk last year.
Tonight is quite different, as the Friars will face a reeling Piitsburgh team that has yet to win a BIG EAST conference game. We’ve been there old conference mate, and it’s no fun. Instead of trying to get a win over a ranked team to bring some excitement to the season, PC will be surprisingly playing Pittsburgh for something more important — the battle for the BIG EAST basement! Oh It’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
The landscape of college athletics is changing before our eyes. A ridiculous money grab is on in an era where insecurity runs high and enough is never enough. However, this is the reality and Providence College will certainly be impacted, so we cannot shy away from it.
By all accounts the latest has Syracuse and Pittsburgh foregoing their roots and identities, following in the footsteps of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College and bolting to the Atlantic Coast Conference in pursuit of a Tobacco Road bounty.
Does not appear there is any turning back now but it is curious as to what Syracuse and Pittsburgh expect to get out of this. Realistically how much better off are Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College since joining the ACC in 2004 (Miami & VT) and 2005 (BC)? And one could have made a much better fit argument between Miami/Tech and the ACC (BC does not really fit with anyone right? Just ask them.) at the time than one can for Syracuse and Pittsburgh presently.
Just one guy’s opinion but Jim Boeheim and Jamie Dixon cannot be thrilled either.
So what happens now? The answer is….who the heck knows!
Anxious times indeed, but odds are that PC basketball will continue to compete in a high profile league. There exist a couple of seemingly viable scenarios so let’s take a look.
Things have been rather quiet around these parts (I can only link to / talk about the defense problem so much without wanting to smash my laptop Office Space style), but we are almost at the conference finish line. The Provience (get it, no D!! hahahaha, I’m here all night!) Friars have two games to go, starting tonight with a nationally televised game against Pittsburgh at the Pete. All our defensive woes aside, there are other reasons to be worried here. 1) It’s a road game against another ranked team. 2) Pitt is going to be motivated to get that sweet double-bye in the BIG EAST Tournament. 3) Pitt wants payback for getting beat whilst ranked #1 last year on our Senior Night). Yikes. Let’s see if the Friars can muster any motivation on their end — after all, they have been the butt of many jokes in the media concerning their defense. It’s obviously not something that is going to change with a flip of the switch, but the effort should be there tonight at least.
The Friars return to action on Thursday, March 4 at No. 17/18 Pittsburgh. PC has posted a 17-27 record all-time versus Pitt. PC is 13-8 all-time at home versus Pitt, 3-18 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites. The two teams first met on March 18, 1975 with the Friars earning a 101-80 win at Madison Square Garden in the NIT. Last year, the Friars defeated the top-ranked Panthers, 81-73, on February 24, 2009. The Friar victory ended an eight-game losing streak versus Pittsburgh. Pitt’s last win over the Friars was an 82-63 victory at Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008.
As Pittsburgh coach Jaime Dixon says, the Friars’ up-and-down, no-defense style is not usually seen in the Big East and clearly cannot work. “They do things a little different than I’d say most teams in the Big East do,” said Dixon. “So, with that, you are going to have higher-scoring games.”
It was a little more than a year ago that Pitt, with a No. 1 ranking in tow after seven consecutive victories, got drilled at Providence, 81-73, by a team that had lost five of its previous seven games.
So when No. 17 Pitt plays host to Providence tonight at the Petersen Events Center don’t expect the Panthers to underestimate the struggling Friars.
“That’s part of being in the Big East,” sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs said. “Anyone can be beaten on any given night. We didn’t come out strong. We came out lackadaisical. We came out really lazy, and they took advantage. Before you knew it, we were down 20.
“We’re definitely thinking about last year. But, at the same time, we want to treat it like any other game and play our hardest.”
Peterson has come out of relative obscurity to average a team-high 19.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward has notched a Big East-leading 14 double-doubles this season — four more than Pitt has as a team — as well as a bunch of highlight-reel dunks.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “He’s strong enough to play inside and versatile enough to play on the outside.”
Pitt (22-7, 11-5) will look to exploit the Providence defense, which is the worst in the Big East, giving up an average 81.2 points per game. Comparatively, the Panthers rank first in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 61.7 points per game.
“We’re just going to try to play our game,” Pitt guard Jermaine Dixon said. “Even though they are struggling, they have stayed in with some big-name teams. They get up for the competition. We are just going to do what we do.”
The Friars are not a particularly big team so there are no big match-up probles for Pitt, but as we saw last week against ND teams that can drive and shoot from outside can be more of a problem for Pitt. Regardless of their overall size.
WHAT TO: WATCH
When we played WV, I already showed the entire end of regulation plus the 3 OT game against Pitt. So, here is a different Pitt game clip.