SHORT REIGN AT #1 FOR PITT
February 25, 2009
It was a big night in Providence Tuesday as the Friars Shock No. 1 Pittsburgh (Pawtucket Times), 81-73, and but themselves in serious position to claim an NCAA Tournament bid.
Things looked bleak for the Friars and their chances for an invite to the Big Dance following a Saturday afternoon 103-84 home loss to Notre Dame. However, in front of 11,887 fans who turned out for 'Senior Night' to honor the Friar seniors Geoff McDermott, Jonathan Kale, Weyinmi Efejuku, Jeff Xavier and Randall Hanke, Pittsburgh never seemed to be into it mentally as the Dismal Panthers Were Held Down by Turnovers (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) and mental lapses defensively right from the beginning, falling behind 15-4 early on. After battling back to within 29-25 on a DeJuan Blair jump-hoop, Providence finished the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 44-26 halftime lead and stretched it to 20, 46-26, in the opening minute of the second half.
With all the pregame talk centered around Pitt sophomore center Blair, PC seniors Kale and Hanke Turn the Tables on the Powerhouse Blair (Providence Journal), especially during the dominant first half. Kale (13 points) and Hanke (10) combined for 23 points and 7 rebounds in 42 minutes of action between the two of them. Blair led Pitt with 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, but committed five turnovers and fouled out in the final moments of the game.
Pitt closed the gap to 75-70 in the late stages of the game, but it was too little too late as Some One-upmanship of the Friars (Providence Journal) turned the tables on the Panthers. Pitt game into the game with the nation's second-best assist to turnover ratio, but PC forced 18 Panther turnovers to just 12 team assists while PC was credited with 18 assists against just 9 turnovers. The Friars also chewed up the Pitt defense for 43 points in the paint, a stat usually reversed when Pittsburgh meets Providence.
Senior Weyinmi Efejuku had a team-high 16 points for PC while junior Sharaud Curry added 15. Another senior, Geoff McDermott, added 11 points and 6 assists in the game.
Pitt falls to 12-3 in Big East play. So, despite their #1 ranking in the nation, they are actually sitting in fourth place in the Big East this morning, a game ahead of 5th place Villanova. The Panthers travel to Seton Hall on Saturday before closing out the regular season at home against No. 10 Marquette and current No. 2 UConn. Then it is on to the 2009 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden where Pitt is the defending champion.
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