Saturday , Mar , 03 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Panthers set sights on share of Big East crown in Milwaukee

Milkwaukee, WI (Sports Network) – The 12th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers try
to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season title, as they
take on the 20th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles tonight from the Bradley

The Panthers enter the contest on a high note, as they posted an 80-66
victory over West Virginia on Tuesday. It was the second win in the last
three games by Pitt, which improved to 25-5 overall and 12-3 in league play.
The Panthers can earn a share of the Big East regular season crown with a win
tonight, but they can also capture the outright title with a win and a
Georgetown loss to Connecticut today.

As for Marquette, it has dropped four of its last five outings and would
like nothing more than a big win to build some confidence for the upcoming
league tournament. The team was last in play a week ago when it suffered
an 85-73 setback at nationally-ranked Notre Dame. Now at 22-8 overall and 9-6
in conference, the Eagles return to the Bradley Center where they have
gone a solid 15-4 thus far.

Marquette defeated Pittsburgh, 77-74, in overtime earlier this season and with
that the Eagles now own a 4-3 edge in the all-time series.

The Panthers have fared well at both ends of the court this season, as they
are averaging 71.7 ppg on 48.4 percent shooting from the field, while holding
their opponents to just 61.5 ppg and only 40.4 percent shooting overall.
Aaron Gray is one of the premier big men in the Big East and he averages a
double-double with team highs of 14.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg. Mike Cook chips in
with 10.3 ppg for Pittsburgh, while Levance Fields dishes out a team-high 4.6
apg. In the team’s last contest, Fields scored 14 points and dished out
five assists in leading Pitt to a 14-point win over WVU. Gray, who has been
slowed a bit by an ankle injury, added a double-double with 12 points and 13
rebounds. The Panthers shot a sizzling 60.4 percent from the field, including
an 8-of-16 effort from behind the arc.

The Golden Eagles are netting 71.2 ppg behind 44.0 percent shooting from
the floor on the season and they are paced by the trio of Dominic James,
Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. James leads the squad in scoring with 15.2
ppg and he is also handing out a team-high 4.7 rpg. McNeal is one of the most
versatile players around, as he contributes 14.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.8 apg and a
team-best 76 steals. As for Matthews, he rounds out the trio with 12.2 ppg
to go with 5.3 rpg. In the club’s previous outing, Marquette shot a dismal
35.8 percent from the field, including a poor 7-of-25 effort from long
range, as it suffered a 12-point loss at Notre Dame. Matthews paced the team
in defeat with 17 points, while McNeal had 16 points. James made just 6-of-20
shots from the floor in the game, but he did finish with 14 points, nine
rebounds and eight assists.