Pittsburgh (13-4) at Villanova (11-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pavilion (6,500) -- Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Pitt 10-2, Villanova 6-2. Away Record: Pitt
1-1, Villanova 4-2. Neutral Record: Pitt 2-1, Villanova 1-1. Conference
Record: Pitt 1-3, Villanova 2-1. Series Record: Villanova leads, 32-31.
GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers have made the trek to Villanova for the
final time in Big East Conference regular-season history to take on the
Wildcats on Wednesday night.
The Panthers entered Big East play on an eight-game winning streak and then
subsequently dropped three of their first four conference matchups. This game
marks the final Big East Conference matchup played at Villanova between the
two teams before Pitt departs for the ACC next year. The two schools meet for
the final regular season game on March 9 in Pittsburgh.
Villanova also began Big East play on a hot streak, winning its last seven
non-conference games. The Wildcats notched victories in each of their first
two league contests before falling to nationally-ranked Syracuse this past
Pitt comes into Wednesday's game after dropping a 74-67 overtime decision at
home to Marquette last Saturday. The Panthers trailed for the majority of
regulation, but battled back and sent the game into overtime when Lamar
Patterson converted a 3-pointer at the top of the key as the buzzer sounded.
In the extra session, the Golden Eagles grabbed an early lead with an 8-2
spurt and outscored Pitt 17-10 to register the win. Patterson led the Panthers
with a career-high 22 points, doing so by draining 6-of-7 3-point attempts.
Villanova's seven-game winning streak that dated to early December was snapped
at No. 7 Syracuse last Saturday. The Orange claimed a 32-20 advantage in
points in the paint en route to the 11-point victory. The Wildcats took a
29-27 lead at halftime, but an early run in the second half put the home team
up for good. C.J.Fair paced the winners in scoring with 22 points, while
sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston led the Wildcats with a dozen. Mouphtaou Yarou
chipped in 11 points for the Wildcats. The game was played in front of the
largest crowd to attend a college basketball game thus far in 2012-13.
Through the first 17 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by an average of
19 points, shooting 49.9 percent from the floor and winning the rebounding
battle by 7.5 boards per game. The Panthers have forced 14.2 turnovers per
game and totaled 117 steals (6.9 per game). Pitt has also dominated the paint,
having outscored the enemy there by a 612-356 margin. The team ranks among the
nation's top-20 teams in eight statistical categories: fifth in scoring
defense and scoring margin, eighth in field goal percentage, third in assists
per game, first in assist-to-turnover ratio, fourth in fewest turnovers per
tilt and 11th in turnover margin. The Panthers are led by Talib Zanna, who is
averaging 12.6 ppg. Tray Woodall is also averaging in double figures, dropping
in 10.8 ppg, while center Steven Adams paces the squad on the glass with 6.1
Pitt and Villanova are meeting for the 64th time, with the latter clinging to
a slim 32-31 series advantage. The Panthers have won each of the last four
matchups, but they are just 5-9 all-time in games played at The Pavilion, with
the last matchup there resulting in a 57-54 Pittsburgh victory on Feb. 12,
2011. Villanova is hoping to secure its first victory over Pitt since March
28, 2009, when the Wildcats upended the Panthers (78-76) en route to the Final
Young guard Ryan Archidiacono had been averaging 12.1 ppg, but after scoring a
career-high 32 points in his Big East debut against St. John's, the freshman
has been held in check by USF and Syracuse, scoring just five and seven
points, respectively. Yarou produced his first two double-doubles of 2012-13
last week against USF and Syracuse. The senior from Benin contributed 11
points and 14 boards against the Orange, and averaged 13.5 points and 13.5
rebounds in those two Big East contests. He leads the team in rebounding at
5.7 per outing. The bench has been a significant factor in Villanova's
improvement over the last six weeks. Over its last 10 games, VU's reserves
have outscored its opponents' by a 267-146 margin. The bench nets 26.7 ppg
from during that stretch, with the bulk coming from sixth man and leading
scorer Pinkston (13.3 ppg). Rebounding has been an area of strength for VU
thus far, as the team outworks Big East competition by a league-best 9.7 rpg.
The Wildcats' 3-point percentage defense is still a work in progress, with
league foes shooting .370 from distance.
The Wildcats are hoping to build on their solid first half and put together a
complete effort against the Panthers. Pitt would love to say goodbye to
visiting their cross-state rivals with a win. Both teams play well underneath
the basket, so expect the guards to make the difference. Archidiacono is due
to break out of his recent slump, so expect the home team to pull out a close
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 68, Pittsburgh 64
01/16 11:28:27 ET
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