Panthers hope to continue winning ways against slumping Pirates

Coming off its upset of Syracuse the Pittsburgh Panthers will take on the Seton Hall Pirates in Big East action at the Petersen Events Center on Monday night.

Seton Hall came up short in its upset bid of then No. 24 Cincinnati as the Pirates fell 65-59 to the Bearcats on Saturday. It was the third straight loss and seventh in the last eight games for the Pirates who are 13-9 overall on the campaign but just 2-7 in league play. In true road contests the Pirates are just 3-5 this season. Up next Seton Hall will host Connecticut.

The Panthers were able to win a tough contest with the then No. 6 Orange on Saturday as they claimed a 65-55 victory. It was the fifth win in the last six games for Pittsburgh which is 18-5 overall, while managing a 6-4 mark in league play. The win over Syracuse was the 13th victory in 14 tries for Pittsburgh against top-10 ranked opponents at the Petersen Events Center where the Panthers are 12-2 overall this season. Pittsburgh will have a two- game road trip next beginning against Cincinnati.

In last season's only meeting the Pirates came away with a 73-66 victory. Pittsburgh has won five of the previous six games, boasts a 19-6 mark in home games and still leads the all-time series, 31-21.

In a game in which both teams shot below 40 percent from the field, the Pirates hit a superior 38.2 percent from the field against Cincinnati but was outscored 21-11 from the free-throw line in the loss. Led by Brandon Mobley's 16 points, the Pirates were able to get 37 points from their bench as opposed to five from the Cincinnati reserves.

The Pirates have not been one of the better offensive teams in the Big East this season ranking 11th in scoring (68.4 ppg) and ninth in field-goal percentage (.447). The Pirates have managed to stay competitive in most games by limiting teams to 64.7 points per game although they have let up more than 70 in two of the last three games. Junior guard Fuquan Edwin (16.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is the top scorer for the Pirates after having scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games. At 6-foot-6 Edwin's length has been an asset on defense as he collects 2.4 steals per game which is second in the Big East. Eugene Teague (12.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is the top rebounder on the roster, while Aaron Cosby (11.6 ppg) and Mobley (9.4 ppg) provide additional scoring depth.

Pittsburgh was tied with Syracuse 35-35 with 12:36 remaining in the second half but the Panthers then went on a 13-4 run over the next seven minutes to jump out to a nine-point lead. The Orange would get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Pittsburgh held Syracuse to just 36.7 percent shooting in the contest.

Defense has been the strength for Pittsburgh this season. The Pirates are allowing the sixth fewest points per game in the country (54.9), while holding teams to less than 40 percent shooting. Controlling the boards has been a major reason for the Panthers' defensive success as they own a nearly eight- rebound advantage on the campaign, while teams pull down just 27.5 boards a contest, the second fewest nationally. On the offensive end the Panthers are a balanced squad with Talib Zanna (10.8 ppg, 5.6 apg) serving as the lead scorer on the roster. In the backcourt Tray Woodall (10.8 ppg, 5.6 apg), Lamar Patterson (10.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) and James Robinson (6.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) have helped the Panthers rank third in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58).

With their ability to shut down teams on the offensive end the Panthers will be able to lock Edwin up and keep the Pirates at bay en route to another conference victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 70, Seton Hall 61