Coach Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh will try to extend a pair of impressive streaks when they welcome Mississippi Valley State to the Petersen Events Center on Thursday night in the final game of the Hispanic College Fund Challenge.
Dixon, in his fifth season with the 19th-ranked Panthers, improved to 21-0 all-time in November after beating Saint Louis 69-58 on Sunday. The 11-point margin of victory was the smallest of the season for Pittsburgh, which played its third game in as many nights in the round-robin tourney.
“It’s a good start,” Dixon said after the Panthers improved to 3-0 for the 10th straight season. “This was a dangerous game. We knew they were going to grind it out against us and we were very efficient.”
Beginning with this contest, Pittsburgh will play its next three games in a 13-day span. The Panthers host Buffalo on Nov. 23 and Boston University on Nov. 27.
Freshman DeJuan Blair, a former Pittsburgh high school star, had 16 points against the Billikens to tie Levance Fields for the team lead. Blair and Fields were named to the all-tournament team.
The 6-foot-7, 265-pound Blair is averaging 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
“I’m a big man and I’ve got quick feet, so I just go around a lot of the taller big men,” said Blair, a forward-center who replaces 7-footer Aaron Gray, selected by Chicago in the second round of June’s NBA draft.
Fields shot just 2-for-9 from the field in each of his first two games before making 7 of 10 shots against Saint Louis. He’s also averaging 5.7 assists per game, up from a team-high 4.6 last season.
Sam Young, the tournament MVP, finished with just 12 points Sunday after averaging 23.0 in wins over Houston Baptist and North Carolina A&T.
Pitt has won 26 straight regular-season home games against unranked non-conference opponents by an average of 19.0 points after losing 69-66 to Bucknell in January 2005. The Panthers also are 83-8 at their on-campus facility since it opened six years ago.
They’ve never faced MVSU, but are 3-0 all-time against Southwest Athletic Conference schools.
MVSU (0-1), the defending SWAC champion, opened its season on Saturday with a 97-63 loss to Mississippi.
Senior forward Carl Lucas, making just his seventh career start, had team highs of 14 points and four rebounds for the Delta Devils, who allowed the Rebels to shoot 60.3 percent (38-of-63) from the field.
Eric Petty added 13 points and Wayne Parks II added 12 in the loss. Stanford Speech, who was the only player on MVSU to average double figures with 12.3 points last season, finished with only eight.
Since 1999, the Delta Devils are 0-7 against ranked teams with six losses coming by at least 23 points.