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(Season record: 2-4)
Pitt has 11 of the past 12 against Providence, but that record does not tell the tale of how competitive a few of the recent games have been.
The last time Pitt played at the Dunkin Donuts Center, Tray Woodall had to make a late jumper to finally put the game out of reach. Pitt won, 83-79.
The year before that in 2010, the Panthers were going to lose to the Friars at home before Ashton Gibbs took an inbounds pass and drilled a half-court 3-pointer for a 73-71 victory at the Petersen Events Center.
And the one lone victory for Providence in the past 12 years was in 2009, when Pitt was ranked No. 1 in the country. The Panthers got behind early, never recovered and lost, 81-73.
What bearing do past games have on tonight’s tilt at the Dunkin Donuts Center? Probably nothing, but the point is the Friars have not been pushovers. And I do not suspect they’ll be pushovers tonight even though the visiting Panthers are favored.
Providence has a talented stable of guards, including the Big East’s leading scorer Bryce Cotton. Pitt has had its share of troubles defending quick guards. Eli Carter of Rutgers did lots of damage as has Ryan Boatright of Connecticut and Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati.
If the Panthers struggle early the answer might be more zone defense. A 2-3 zone might work because the Friars have struggled with their shooting in recent games. They shot 20 percent in the first half of Saturday’s game against Villanova. They shot better in the second half and came back for a 69-66win.
Pitt has to continue to do what it has done the past two games – defend and rebound. The rebounding is a must if the Friars decide to make some outside shots.
It’ll be close, but I believe Jamie Dixon has finally reached the Panthers.
Pitt 70, Providence 67
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