Seton Hall-Pittsburgh Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Another home victory over a top 10 opponent helped propel Pittsburgh back into the AP poll.
The No. 23 Panthers hope to avoid a letdown while trying to continue their home dominance of struggling Seton Hall in Monday night's Big East matchup.
After falling 64-61 at No. 11 Louisville last Monday, Pitt (18-5, 6-4) bounced back with a 65-55 win over then-No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday. The Panthers shot 48.0 percent, owned a 39-24 rebounding advantage and held the undermanned Orange to 36.7 percent from the field to win for the fifth time in six games. They improved to 13-1 against top 10 foes since the Petersen Events Center opened a decade ago.
"They're the best team we've played, without any question," Syracuse coach Boeheim said. "It's not even close."
Pitt started 12-1 and spent the last two weeks of December ranked 24th, but lost three of its first four Big East games before recently turning things around. The Panthers have limited their last six opponents to an average of 57.0 points on 38.5 percent shooting, including 28.6 from 3-point range.
They also lead the Big East allowing 27.5 rebounds per contest.
Senior Tray Woodall was the only Panther in double figures with 13 points against Syracuse, but his nine teammates who played each scored.
"This team is unique," coach Jamie Dixon said. "I think the strength is in playing 10 guys. That's not normal but that's what works for us."
That depth could come in handy for a quick turnaround against a Seton Hall team that has lost three in a row and seven of eight.
"We have to focus on Seton Hall," Dixon said. "We have to come out and play with the same aggressiveness (as Saturday)."
Though Pitt lost its last two road games versus Seton Hall (13-9, 2-7), including 73-66 in the teams' only meeting of 2011-12, they've won nine of 11 at home in the series. The Pirates have shot 36.9 percent while losing the last three at Pittsburgh by an average of 20.0 points.
Cincinnati's 29-5 run that covered both halves ultimately led to Seton Hall's 65-59 home loss to the No. 17 Bearcats on Saturday.
"We have to finish the first half strong, then come out strong," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. "I have to say we're not getting it right now. We have a major issue with that."
That might not be Seton Hall's only problem.
The Pirates have averaged 60.3 points and 16.1 turnovers in the last eight games. Their opponents are scoring 69.9 per contest during that stretch.
"We have to dig deep and find some way somehow to get a win and turn this around," said guard Brandon Mobley, who matched Fuquan Edwin with a team-high 16 points Saturday. "We have a great chunk of our season left. We have to do something to keep this from happening."
Edwin averages a team-leading 16.6 points but has totaled 10 on 5-of-13 shooting in two games versus Pitt.
Updated February 4, 2013