Pittsburgh has been as dominant as any team at home this season, while Rutgers has lost 10 straight Big East road games.
The 13th-ranked Panthers hope both trends continue as they host the Scarlet Knights on Saturday, looking to win their ninth straight against Rutgers and their 14th straight at home.
Pitt (16-3, 4-2 Big East) has won all 11 games this season at the Petersen Events Center, winning each contest by double figures except for a 69-60 win over then-No. 5 Georgetown in its most recent home game on Jan. 14.
Saturday’s game is the 100th played since the Panthers’ new facility opened for the 2002-03 season, and Pitt has lost just eight of the first 99 games.
The Panthers are coming off consecutive road games, having bounced back from a 62-59 loss at Cincinnati by winning 81-57 at St. John’s on Wednesday.
“We were coming off a game where we didn’t play well and we righted ourselves,” said forward Sam Young, who scored 26 points against St. John’s. “That was pretty big. Now we have to maintain it.”
Pitt also moved to 5-2 without injured starting guards Mike Cook and Levance Fields. Cook tore his ACL and Fields broke his foot last month, but the Panthers have played well without them, shooting 50.3 percent from the field in the last seven games.
A large reason has been Young, who leads Pitt with 18.6 points per game. He’s scored 22 or more points in four of the last five games while averaging 20.6 points and shooting 51.4 percent over the last seven.
The Panthers have also dominated Rutgers (9-11, 1-6) in recent years, winning eight straight dating back to February 2001. The teams haven’t met in more than two years since Pitt won 76-68 at Rutgers in January 2006.
The Scarlet Knights are looking to win consecutive games against ranked teams for just the second time in school history. They had lost six straight overall before beating No. 18 Villanova 80-68 on Wednesday, their first Big East win this season and first win over a ranked team in nearly two years.
“Tonight, the key to winning was that we did those little things that we haven’t been able to do,” Rutgers coach Fred Hill told the school’s official athletics Web site. “When you’re building a program, there is a process. You have to learn how to win. I think tonight’s game gave the young guys the confidence they need.”
Freshman Mike Coburn and junior Anthony Farmer each had career highs with 23 points for Rutgers, which shot 50 percent. Combined with a hot shooting night in a 75-73 loss at DePaul last Saturday, the Knights are shooting 55.8 percent in their last two games, including 15-of-31 from 3-point range.
The only other time Rutgers won back-to-back games against ranked teams was during the 2001-02 season, when it beat Connecticut and Syracuse consecutively. Before Wednesday, the Knights hadn’t beaten a ranked team since January 2006, when they beat then-No. 22 Louisville.
Rutgers has lost 11 consecutive road games against top 25 opponents.