Monday , Feb , 19 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Pitt continues to build head of steam as home stretch approaches

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – The 10th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers
continue their quest for the Big East Conference regular season title, and
they will take another step in the right direction if they can knock off the
Seton Hall Pirates on the road this evening.

On Saturday, Pitt took a break from league play to post a hard-fought victory
over Pac-10 foe Washington in a 65-61 final. The Panthers have won six of
their last seven outings to move to 23-4, including 10-2 in Big East action.
Two of the team’s four losses have come in overtime, and another came against
Wisconsin, one of the nation’s top-ranked teams.

Seton Hall has lost four straight games and seven of its last eight to fall to
12-13 overall and an even worse 3-9 in league play. On Saturday, the
Pirates dropped an 81-71 decision to West Virginia to move to 1-7 in true
road games, but they are 10-4 at home.

The Panthers own a 26-19 edge in the all-time series with the Pirates, but
Seton Hall did post a 65-61 victory in the only meeting last season.

Pittsburgh shot just 36.2 percent from the floor against Washington on
Saturday, including a 4-of-15 effort from three-point range. Fortunately, the
Panthers were able to force 16 turnovers while committing only six of their own
giveaways. Also, Pitt earned a 19-6 edge in points from the foul line, and four
players scored in double figures. Mike Cook tallied 15 points, while Levance
Fields pitched in with 14. Ronald Ramon contributed 11 points and Sam Young
rounded out the foursome with 10. Standout center Aaron Gray was held to five
points, but he did pull down 10 rebounds. Gray is averaging 14.5 ppg and 10.0
rpg this season, and he is clearly a major contender for Big East Player of the
Year. The Panthers are netting 72.1 ppg while limiting their opponents to 61.1

Brian Laing is the top offensive performer for Seton Hall, as he is scoring
16.0 ppg to go with 6.6 rpg. Eugene Harvey is close behind with 15.8 ppg, and
he is tops on the roster with 103 assists. The third and final double-digit
scorer is Jamar Nutter with 12.3 ppg. Paul Gause is not a great scorer, but the
sophomore has set the Seton Hall single-season steals record with 84, thanks to
four takeaways against West Virginia. Unfortunately, the Pirates permitted the
Mountaineers to connect on 57.4 percent of their field goal attempts. Seton
Hall finished a dismal 3-of-20 from three-point range, overshadowing an 18-10
edge in points from the foul line and a slight rebounding advantage.