Pittsburgh (15-4) at Providence (10-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, January 22, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center (13,106) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Pitt 11-2. Providence 8-2. Away Record: Pitt 2-1, Providence 1-4. Neutral Record: Pitt 2-1, Providence 1-2. Conference Record: Pitt 3-3, Providence 2-4. Series Record: Pitt leads, 30-17.
GAMES NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers will take aim at their longest winning streak in league play this season when they invade the Dunkin' Donuts Center for a Big East brawl with the Providence Friars on Tuesday night.
With a 69-61 victory over Connecticut last time out Pittsburgh has now put together consecutive victories in Big East play for the first time this season. The Panthers have gotten out to a 15-4 overall mark but have split their six conference battles on the season. This is just the fourth true road test for Pittsburgh which took victories in two of its first three. Pittsburgh returns home to host DePaul next.
After a five-game losing streak, Providence has begun to figure things out with a pair of wins in their last three outings. The most recent was a 69-66 victory over Villanova in the first half of this two-game homestand. Providence has done a good job defending its home court this season with an 8-2 mark at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Providence, which is just 2-4 in league play, will travel to take on Marquette on Saturday.
With wins in 11 of the last 12 meetings Pittsburgh has really been the dominant team in the series. The Panthers now hold a 30-17 edge all-time.
Although Pittsburgh never trailed in the second half against UConn, the Panthers did find themselves tied at 58-58 with the Huskies late in the contest. However Pittsburgh then ripped off an 11-2 run over the final four minutes to pull out the victory.
In comparison to the rest of the league Pittsburgh has been a rather pedestrian offensive team in terms of scoring (72.2 ppg). However they have made the most of their possessions by shooting at a stellar 49.1 percent clip which is good enough for ninth in the nation overall. Ball movement keys the impressive shooting clip with the Panthers handing out the fifth most assists (17.6 pg) nationally. Pittsburgh is also a tough team to score against as it lets up just 53.9 points per game on less than 40 percent shooting. No one particular player on the team stands out as the primary option with Talib Zanna (11.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) the closest thing to a primary threat on the roster. Tray Woodall (10.7 ppg, 5.5 apg) is also capable of taking on the scoring load while working well as the primary facilitator.
After trailing by as many as 12 points against Villanova, Providence was able to rally in the second half and edge the Wildcats. The crucial stretch of the contest occurred after the Friars battled back to tie the game at 54-54 with just under four minutes remaining. Providence then went on an 11-3 run to take an eight-point lead with 43 ticks on the clock on a dunk from Kris Dunn.
Providence neither scores nor shoots as well as Pittsburgh. In fact the Friars are among the bottom four teams in the conference in points per game (68.5 ppg, 12th) and field-goal percentage (.418). Providence has been able to fight and compete by playing well on the defensive end. The Friars are allowing just 63.1 points per game, while teams shoot at a 40.9 percent clip from the field. It cannot be understated how important the return of Vincent Council (9.9 ppg, 6.5 apg) has been and will continue to be for Providence. After missing a bulk of the season due to injury, the 6-foot-2 guard has not missed a beat, scoring in double figures in five of the last six games. Council's return also takes some pressure of Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (21.8 ppg). On the frontline, LaDontae Henton (14.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Kadeem Batts (14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg) have been scoring and rebounding at a high level all season.
Although they might not be in the upper echelon of the conference, the Friars has enough talent in the starting five, especially with Council back, to compete most nights, even more so at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 68, Pittsburgh 66
01/22 10:32:37 ET