Tuesday , Jan , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Big East tussle pits Panthers against Huskies

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – A battle of Big East Conference
heavyweights will ensue in Pittsburgh tonight, as the sixth-ranked
Panthers hope to hold off the Connecticut Huskies.

On Saturday, UConn halted a two-game slide with a 68-59 decision over St.
John’s in what was the team’s first true road win of the season. That
triumph over the Red Storm enabled Jim Calhoun to move into a 12th-place
tie with Phog Allen on the all-time Division I coaching wins list. The
Huskies are 13-3 overall, but their 2-2 Big East record could certainly
stand some improvement.

Pittsburgh may be playing its best ball of the season right now, as the team
has run off six consecutive victories to improve to 16-2 overall and 4-0 in
league play. The Panthers moved to 11-0 at home with a 74-69 decision over
Georgetown on Saturday, and they have held the opposition to fewer than 70
points in all 16 of their wins.

UConn holds a 29-23 edge in the all-time series with Pittsburgh, and the
Huskies won the only meeting last season in an 80-76 final.

The Huskies enter this contest as one of the nation’s premier defensive
teams, as they are limiting opponents to just 35.2 percent shooting from
the floor while averaging a shade under 10 blocked shots per outing.
They are also outrebounding foes by almost 11 boards per contest and
outscoring them by almost 20.0 ppg. Jeff Adrien leads UConn with 13.0 ppg
and 9.5 rpg, and Jerome Dyson checks in with 12.5 ppg. The third and final
double-digit scorer for the Huskies is A.J. Price with 11.6 ppg. In the
recent win over St. John’s, UConn put forth yet another stellar effort at
the defensive end, limiting the Red Storm to 33.3 percent shooting from
the floor. The Huskies connected on 50 percent of their field goal
attempts, overshadowing the fact that they committed 19 turnovers. Price
scored 15 points to lead a balanced offensive attack.

The Panthers have been efficient offensively this season and tough at
the defensive end. They are scoring 75.3 ppg on 50 percent shooting from the
floor, including 39.7 percent accuracy from three-point range. Meanwhile,
they are limiting opponents to 62.3 ppg on 40.5 percent overall
shooting. Pitt is outrebounding foes by 6.4 rpg and is committing just 11
turnovers per contest. Aaron Gray continues to pace the Panthers with 14.7
ppg, 9.8 rpg and 29 blocks, as he is considered one of the elite centers
in the nation. Mike Cook (11.9 ppg) and Antonio Graves (10.5 ppg) are
consistent contributors at the offensive end. In the five-point victory
over Georgetown on Saturday, Cook scored 18 points to pace four double-
digit scorers. The Panthers shot 59.6 percent from the field and finished
with 22 assists against seven turnovers, numbers that enabled the club to
overcome 60.9 percent overall shooting by Georgetown.