College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, January 2, 2010
So far, the new year has not been praticularly kind to unbeaten teams in the Big East. On Friday, Purdue sent West Virginia to its first loss of the season, and on Saturday, the Pitt Panthers stormed the Carrier Dome and swept away the Orangemen's dreams of an undefeated season, topping the Orange, 82-72.
Syracuse stormed out to an early lead, but the Panthers kept the game within range, down by just three points, 30-27, as the two teams headed into the break. While SU's big men were getting themselves into foul trouble and the rest of the team missing shots from everywhere, Pitt's solid backcourt tandem of senior Jermaine Dixon and sophomore Ashton Gibbs were wreaking havoc from the perimeter. Gibbs, quickly becoming one of the more fearsome long-range specialists in the Big East, banged home 6 of 9 3-pointers en route to a game-high 24 points.
Dixon had a career-high 21 points, hitting 3 of 8 3-pointers, while dishing 4 assists, grabbing 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Pitt, winners of 5 of their last 6 trips to Syracuse, harassed Syracuse's outside shooters into a season-low 1-for-13 on 3-poiint attempts.
Prior to the game, Syracuse was ranked #5 nationally, while the Panthers were unranked. Now 12-2, Pitt should be mentioned as at least a contender in the Big East and should crack the Top 25 poll which will be released on Monday.
NOTABLE: Kentucky is loaded with young talent, though most of the attention is directed at the sensational John Wall. The Wildcats might be developing one of the best big men in the country in 6'11" frosh DeMarcus Cousins, who put on a thoroughly dominating performance in Kentucky's 71-61 win over Louisville. Cousins scored 18 points and had 18 rebounds, his 4th straight double-double and 8th on the season. #3 Kentucky improved to 15-0.