It didn’t take long for Pittsburgh to move on to its next game after suffering its first Big East loss.
The ninth-ranked Panthers get a chance to bounce back from that defeat Sunday when they visit a Seton Hall team coming off one of its biggest victories of the season.
Pittsburgh (15-3, 5-1) is one of the Big East’s surprise teams after losing four starters from last season’s club that fell one game short of the Final Four. The Panthers are 3-0 in conference road games, with wins over then-No. 5 Syracuse on Jan. 2 and then-No. 15 Connecticut on Jan. 13.
Pittsburgh’s perfect start in conference play ended with a 74-66 home loss to No. 12 Georgetown on Wednesday. The Panthers shot a season-low 22.2 percent (4 of 18) on 3-pointers.
“We already started talking about our game plan for Seton Hall,” coach Jamie Dixon said after the game. “It was a disappointing loss and we are going to take full responsibility for it.”
While Pittsburgh was off from beyond the arc, it hasn’t been able to defend opposing perimeter shooters lately, either. The last two Panthers’ foes have shot 45.7 percent (16 of 35) on 3-pointers.
“We win games with defense, but we lost this game with defense,” Dixon said. “I’m very disappointed. We haven’t defended the way we can (the last two games), and it caught up to us.”
The Panthers will have to focus Sunday on defending a player known for hoisting up long-range shots. The Pirates’ Jeremy Hazell is among the nation’s leaders in 3-point attempts with a Big East-leading 175.
Hazell scored 25 points to help Seton Hall (11-6, 2-4) earn an 80-77 victory over Louisville on Thursday. The Pirates nearly blew a 72-59 lead with 4:40 to go before holding on.
“Obviously it was a great win for us,” coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “I thought we outplayed them and won the game wire to wire.”
All five starters reached double figures for Seton Hall, which shot 52.7 percent from the field. That’s the second-highest percentage for the Pirates in a Big East game over the previous six seasons.
“This league isn’t easy,” said guard Jordan Theodore, who added 17 points. “Everybody knows that. You are playing against the best of the best every night. You’re going to lose some, but it’s good to get the big ones.”
Pittsburgh has won three straight over Seton Hall, winning 89-78 in last season’s lone matchup. Current Panthers players accounted for 32 points in that contest.
That included a three-point effort from Ashton Gibbs, who has blossomed into the Panthers’ leading scorer this season with 16.9 per game. This will be Gibbs’ first start in his home state, where he played at nearby Seton Hall Prep.
Gibbs matched a season low with eight points on 3-of-16 shooting in Wednesday’s loss as part of a bad overall shooting effort by Pitt’s three-guard lineup.
“This league is tough and we still have a lot of games left,” Panthers guard Jermaine Dixon said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t go undefeated, but that’s how the Big East is, we don’t have a night off.”