American University (7-4) at (6) Pittsburgh (11-1)
Wednesday, December 22nd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Event Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: American 2-1, Pitt 8-0. Away Record: American 5-2, Pitt 0-0. Neutral Record: American 0-1, Pitt 3-1. Conference Record: American 0-0, Pitt 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The American University Eagles will play their sixth straight road game tonight, as they swoop into the Steel City to battle the sixth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.
American is actually playing the sixth game of a lengthy eight-game road trek, and the team has gone 3-2 on the trip so far. Overall, the Eagles are 7-4 and are coming off a 69-64 triumph over Mount St. Mary's on Monday. Members of the Patriot League, AU has won five of its seven road games thus far and is 5-3 outside of Washington, D.C. when you factor in an 0-1 mark in neutral-site affairs.
Pittsburgh is an impressive 11-1 on the year, and the team has won 15 straight home games. When looking solely at home games against non-conference opponents, the Panthers have won 55 straight and are a remarkable 83-1 at the Petersen Events Center all-time. Pitt's 97-64 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday was the 199th for head coach Jamie Dixon. A win tonight would give Dixon a 200-55 career record, and would tie him with Mark Few and Roy Williams for the quickest in Division I history to 200 wins at eight seasons. The Panthers open Big East Conference play at home against UConn next Monday.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between American and Pittsburgh in men's basketball.
Vlad Moldoveanu nailed five three-pointers on his way to a game-high 21 points, as American got past Mount St. Mary's on Monday in a five-point decision. The Eagles actually trailed by four at the break, but a strong defensive effort limited the Mountaineers to 30.8 percent shooting in the second half and that led to the victory. Stephen Lumpkins pitched in 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting for AU, which wound up with a rebounding edge of 32-26, and a low total of nine turnovers. For the season, Moldoveanu has proven to be a force as he is averaging 19.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while Troy Brewer checks in with 12.8 points and 4.3 caroms per contest. Lumpkins turns in 12.0 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game, helping the Eagles grab 33.2 rpg as a team. American, which shoots 34.5 percent from long range this season, has turned it up in the last three games, hitting better than 41 percent.
Gilbert Brown scored a career-high 28 points to lead Pittsburgh to its recent rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Ashton Gibbs (15 points, seven assists), Travon Woodall (11 points, nine assists) and Gary McGhee (10 points, 10 rebounds) each had solid outings as well for the Panthers, who made good on 55.4 percent of their field goal attempts, and converted 9-of-20 three-point tries. Pitt finished with a whopping 33 assists against only eight turnovers, while holding UMES to 39.7 percent shooting and outrebounding its overmatched foe by a resounding 53-26 margin. The Panthers boast three double-digit scorers, led by Gibbs and his 17.0 ppg. A 45.9 percent shooter from three- point range, Gibbs also hands out 3.3 apg for a team that averages nearly 21 helpers per contest. Brad Wannamaker is the Panthers' primary playmaker with his 6.0 apg, and he also turns in 12.4 ppg on 48.1 percent field goal efficiency. Brown rounds out the trio with 10.9 ppg, and he too tries to get his teammates in on the action by handing out 3.1 apg. As a team, the Panthers are generating 82.3 ppg on the strength of their 48.8 percent shooting effort, which includes a 37.3 percent showing from beyond the arc. At the defensive end, Pittsburgh is giving up just 62.3 ppg as foes are hitting a mere 40.9 percent of their total shots, and the Panthers own favorable differentials in both rebounding (+16.0) and turnovers (+1.4), the former stat giving them one of the largest margins in the country.
While the Eagles are sure to put up a fight, they simply lack the overall talent and depth needed to hang for very long with the mighty Panthers. Expect this one to be somewhat tougher than the majority of Pitt's home wins, but its lengthy win streak will remain in tact.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 81, American University 62
12/22 10:42:13 ET