Pittsburgh is taking a break from Big East play on Monday night, but isn’t anticipating a breather in a matchup against a surging local rival.
The No. 25 Panthers seek to improve to 28-0 against Robert Morris, while ending a nine-game win streak for the Colonials for the second straight season.
Pittsburgh (17-6) will close out non-conference play in the middle game of a three-game homestand. The Panthers avoided a third straight loss overall with an 83-58 rout of Seton Hall on Saturday, and will host a rematch with No. 5 West Virginia on Friday.
The Panthers have won a school-record 46 straight non-conference home games since a 69-66 loss to Bucknell on Jan. 2, 2005.
It doesn’t appear, though, that Pittsburgh is looking past this game. Robert Morris (16-8) leads the Northeast Conference after earning its first NCAA berth since 1992 last season, and has three seniors in its starting lineup.
“They are an experienced team,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “They have a bunch of seniors and guys we’re familiar with. It’s an important game for both teams.”
Last season, Robert Morris came to the Petersen Events Center on a nine-game win streak and left with a 92-72 loss. The Panthers built a 53-33 lead at halftime and forced 19 turnovers for the game.
Jermaine Dixon is Pittsburgh’s only returning starter from that game, and he expects a more difficult contest this season.
“They’re a great team and they’re coming off an NCAA tournament berth,” Jermaine Dixon said. “Being in Pittsburgh, they’re going to come in here and play hard. It’s a quick turnaround, but we’ll watch film and be ready for Monday.”
The Panthers will try to slow down a Colonials team that shot a season-high 64.1 percent in Saturday’s 75-63 win over St. Francis (Pa.). Karon Abraham scored 14 points to lead four players in double figures.
Robert Morris led by as many as 21 points in the second half, and no Colonial logged more than 29 minutes in anticipation of Monday’s game.
Pitt also had an easy time Saturday, shooting 51.7 percent to improve to 12-1 at home. Gilbert Brown came off the bench to score 23 points as the Panthers put a season-high five players in double figures.
Brown bounced back after his first scoreless outing of the season in Wednesday’s 70-51 loss to the Mountaineers. The Panthers shot a season-low 30.2 percent in that game.
“Coming from that last game, not scoring and not being productive in any part of the game, I just really wanted to come out and be aggressive and assert myself in other ways if not scoring, but it just so happened it was scoring,” Brown said.