No. 23 Pittsburgh 56, Seton Hall 46
Pittsburgh basketball coach Jamie Dixon isn't much on style points.
Good thing, because there weren't many to go around in the 23rd-ranked Panthers' 56-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday night.
Pitt shot a season-low 35 percent (16 of 46), turned it over 13 times and let the undermanned Pirates hang around for far too long. Yet it didn't stop the surging Panthers (19-5, 7-4 Big East) from winning for the sixth time in seventh games to give their turnaround season another welcome shot of momentum.
''There's not a lot of teams with 19 wins in the country, that's first and foremost,'' Dixon said. ''You've got to find different ways. We're not going to win every game the same way.''
Barely 48 hours after an emotional upset of Syracuse, Pitt slogged its way past Seton Hall by shutting down the Pirates over the game's final 10 minutes.
Lamar Patterson scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and freshman center Steven Adams added eight points, 15 rebounds and two blocks for the Panthers, who survived on grit on a night they struggled to get into any sort of rhythm.
''When your shots aren't falling, it does get frustrating, but it's a good sign,'' Patterson said. ''We fought through some things and faced a little adversity. We've just got to get our legs back.''
Cameron Wright scored six of his eight points during a game-ending 18-8 surge that prevented Pitt from stubbing its toe after taking down the Orange.
''I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table, when I try to get an opportunity to score, I try to be aggressive,'' Wright said.
Fuquan Edwin led the Pirates (13-10, 2-8) with 23 points but was slowed after injuring his right ankle midway through the second half. Seton Hall shot just 33 percent (14 of 42) from the field and made just two baskets over the final 10:37.
''I'm kind of proud of our guys and way able to shuffle around and do different things,'' Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ''I thought other guys stepped up and kept fighting.''
Pitt finally found some breathing room midway through the second half after Seton Hall took a 39-38 lead. Patterson hit a layup off a nice feed from Adams to put the Panthers in front for good and Adams followed with a nifty spin move for a dunk.
The quickly developing 7-footer hung on the rim, however, and received a technical foul for his efforts. Seton Hall's Kyle Smyth hit both free throws to pull the Pirates back within 42-41, but things changed for Seton Hall after Edwin landed awkwardly on his right ankle while battling for a rebound with 7:38 remaining.
Edwin hobbled to the bench and returned to the game a minute later after a quick examination, but he wasn't the same.
Neither were the Pirates.
Though Edwin would somehow make a lay-up while basically playing on one foot, it marked Seton Hall's only bucket for a 10-minute span until Haralds Karlis put home a meaningless dunk in the waning seconds.
Pitt outrebounded Seton Hall 40-28, including a 20-10 edge in the second half.
''The rebounding has improved, there's no question about it,'' Dixon said. ''But I think our defense has improved too. We've got to win with that.''
The Panthers vaulted back into the rankings following a 65-55 upset of the Orange over the weekend, the kind of victory Pitt needed to give its steady but hardly spectacular resume a boost.
Barely 48 hours after the season's biggest triumph, the Panthers flirted with giving away all of the goodwill they built.
The Pirates came in losers of seven of their last eight and were playing without sophomore guard Aaron Crosby, who missed the game for personal reasons. Minus its third-leading scorer, Seton Hall relied heavily on Edwin to handle most of the scoring and a frenetic, borderline out-of-control defense to force Pitt into a series of rushed shots and sloppy turnovers.
''It was a typical Big East game, we just didn't shoot the ball well,'' Pitt guard Tray Woodall said. ''I think they did a good job of switching up their defenses and sending a bunch of junk defenses at us.''
The Panthers took a quick seven-point lead then went more than 6 minutes without a field goal. The team that began the night second in assist/turnover ratio had just six assists on six turnovers in a disjointed opening 20 minutes that ended with an ugly 24-all .
Pitt quickly built another seven-point advantage early in the second half but Seton Hall scratched its way back in front 39-38 on a free throw by Edwin with 9:44 to go. It would be the Pirates' last hurrah on a night Pitt found a way even if it wasn't particularly pretty.