No. 16 Pittsburgh upends No. 15 Huskies for critical road win
Pittsburgh was supposed to be rebuilding this season. Instead the
Panthers are building toward another run at a Big East
Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs each scored 19 points and the No. 16 Panthers won again on the road, beating No. 15 Connecticut 67-57.
The Panthers (14-2) have now won seven straight games and are 4-0 in the conference, with consecutive road wins at No. 5 Syracuse, Cincinnati and now UConn.
Gilbert Brown added 11 points for the Panthers, who were not ranked at the start of the season, after losing stars Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields from a team that won 31 games a year ago.
"I know other people may look at us differently and where we're picked," said coach Jamie Dixon. "But I believe any team that commits to one another and commits to playing together can be as good as they want to be."
Stanley Robinson had 19 points for the Huskies (11-5, 2-3), who lost their second in a row, after blowing a 19-point lead at Georgetown on Saturday. Jerome Dyson had 14 points and Kemba Walker added 10 points and seven assists. UConn has yet to beat a ranked opponent this season.
Pittsburgh has won three straight from the Huskies, after winning twice last season while UConn was ranked No. 1.
They outrebounded UConn 40-31, including 26-13 in the second half.
"I'm not used to coming down to games where the other team grabs control of the game, as both Georgetown and Pittsburgh did the last two games," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. "It's very disappointing."
Pitt led most of the game and was up by nine with just under 15 minutes to play, before UConn made its only real run. The Huskies scored 11 straight points and brought the crowd into the game. A layup by Dyson with 9:40 to play gave Connecticut a 49-48 lead, its first since being up 5-4.
But the Panthers did not wilt. A 3-pointer by Gibbs gave Pitt a 55-51 lead, and his layup after a UConn turnover stretched the lead to six.
"We just wanted to stay mellow, stay calm," said Gibbs. "They're going to have great runs. They are going to have big runs, especially at their place."
The Panthers hit 17-of-20 foul shots, including six straight to close out the game.
"That was very important ... not giving them a chance to come down and get a big shot," said Wanamaker, who hit nine of his 10 shots from the line. "We out-toughed them in the second half and we came out with the win."
Pittsburgh controlled the game early, jumping out to a 18-8 lead. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown and Gibbs completed a 14-3 run.
UConn fought its way back behind Robinson's 13 first-half points. His windmill dunk cut the lead to 26-22 with 4½ minutes left in the first half. UConn's Alex Oriakhi had a chance to cut the lead to one, but his dunk came just after the halftime buzzer and Pitt went into the intermission with a 32-29 lead.
This was the 10th time in the last 11 games between the two teams that both were ranked. Wanamaker said not being in the polls at the start of the season "is a lot of motivation."
"Everybody in that locker room is confident in each other," Gibbs said. "We knew what we had coming into this season."
UConn's Robinson scored his 1,000th career point on a layup in the first half, becoming the 44th Connecticut player to reach that milestone.