Sunday , Nov , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Panthers set to pounce on Grizzlies

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – The fourth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers will
play host to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies today as part of the First
Commonwealth Colonial Basketball Classic, a round robin event.

Oakland enters this game with a 3-1 record, including last night’s 67-52
decision over Northeastern. The lone loss came on Friday against UMass by
nine points on the first night of this event. Clearly, the Golden Grizzlies
can earn some positive national attention if they are able to score the
monumental upset tonight.

Pittsburgh will make that feat very difficult to accomplish, as the club has
won all four of its games this season by double figures. Yesterday, the
Panthers posted an 85-68 decision over a UMass squad that has the
potential to challenge for the Atlantic 10 crown. Pitt possesses one of
the top performers in college basketball and an exciting supporting cast
that makes the Panthers a major contender in the Big East.

Pittsburgh won the only previous meeting with Oakland.

Oakland does not possess a bona fide star player who can be counted on every
game to put up huge numbers. The team relies heavily on its play at the
defensive end of the floor to hold its opponents in check, as foes are only
averaging 54.0 ppg on 40.1 percent shooting from the floor. In yesterday’s
game against Northeastern, Oakland permitted just 37.3 percent shooting from
the field to its opponent. The Golden Grizzlies also benefited from a 41-25
rebounding advantage and a 16-8 edge in points from the foul line. Shawn Hopes
scored 17 points to lead the way in the victory. Johnathon Jones pitched in 15
points for Oakland, and Erik Kangas tallied 11 points in 34 minutes of action.

Pittsburgh is fortunate to have the Big East Preseason Player of the Year on
its side in center Aaron Gray. The seven-foot standout can run the floor and
has some touch around the basket, and he is a strong rebounder as well.
Heading into yesterday’s matchup with UMass, Gray was averaging 17.0 ppg and
11.7 rpg to lead his team in both categories. Against the Minutemen, the big
man scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in only 17 minutes. Gray got into foul
trouble early in the game and later suffered a cut on his lip that required
stitches. Mike Cook also scored 14 points for the Panthers, and Levance Fields
contributed 13 points. Antonio Graves had 12 points and Tyrell Biggs
contributed 11 points for Pittsburgh, which racked up 23 assists against only
10 turnovers.