Sure enough, just a day after being named the #1 team in the nation by the AP Poll, the Pitt Panthers stumbled against a Providence team fighting for an NCAA bid, losing for the first time in 8 games, 81-73.
Providence came out flying, getting 12 first-half points from Jonathan Kale as they shot 53% in the period. Pitt shot a sub-par 37% on 10-27 shooting. At the break, the Friars held a healthy 44-26 edge.
Nearing the midpoint of the second half, Pitt had cut the Friars' lead to 10 points, but consecutive fouls by DeJuan Blair over a 14-second span sent the Pitt star to the bench with four personals.
Providence quickly built its lead back to 17 points, as Sam Young valiantly fired away, but the usually-reliable swimgman could not carry the load alone. Young finished with 16 points on 7 for 18 shooting (1-for-4 from 3-point range).
The Panthers weren't helping themselves much, putting Providence in the double bonus with 5:21 to play. That's when Blair returned, but by then the Friars were still up by 14.
The Panthers could cut the gap to no closer than 5 points down the stretch as Providence snapped their own 2-game losing streak.
Five Providence players hit double figures, led by Weyinmi Efejuku's 16 points.
The Friars are now 9-7 in the conference and 17-11 overall, and suddenly have a much better shot at getting that NCAA invitation.
Eslewhere in the Big East, Syracuse got a much-needed win at St. John's, mauling the Red Storm, 87-58. Jonny Flynn led the Orangemen with 21 points to go with 8 assists.
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