7:00 PM ET, February 12, 2007
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Even foul trouble isn't limiting the effectiveness of Pittsburgh center Aaron Gray.The 7-foot senior looks to lead the seventh-ranked Panthers (22-3, 10-1 Big East) to their sixth straight victory when they host Louisville (17-8, 7-4) on Monday night.Gray overcame early foul problems Saturday to score 22 points and grab seven rebounds as Pittsburgh (22-3, 10-1) defeated Providence 74-68. The win kept the Panthers two games ahead of second-place Georgetown in the conference."I was frustrated having to sit out the whole first half," said Gray, who was on the bench for the final 8 1/2 minutes of the opening period after drawing his second foul. "I made some stupid mental mistakes. I would have liked to have stayed in the game, but it wasn't my decision."I was hoping I could convince them to let me stay in, but that shows what a good coach (Jamie Dixon) is. I was frustrated and I could have easily gotten another foul."Gray went 10-of-17 from the field to lead a Pitt squad that shot 46.7 percent (28-for-60) overall. The Panthers badly needed Gray's strong play inside, as the Friars' man-to-man defense limited Pitt to 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) shooting from 3-point range."I thought we could have played better, but I always think that way," said Dixon, whose team still leads the conference at 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. "(The Friars are) one of the few teams in the conference that's bigger than us and outrebounds us, and we didn't expect them to play as much man-to-man as they did."Gray is averaging a team-best 15.0 points and is shooting 58.6 percent from the floor, third in the Big East, and his strong play has helped the Panthers win five in a row and 12 of 13.Since falling 77-74 at home to Marquette on Jan. 21, Pitt has held its last five opponents to 54.2 points per game and outscored them by 13.4 per contest.Gray's next challenge appears to be Louisville freshman forward Derrick Caracter, who took over when center David Padgett was injured Saturday and had a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Cardinals' 83-63 win over South Florida.The 6-11, 245-pound Padgett sprained his foot early in the first half and did not return."He did a good job," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Caracter. "I didn't expect David Padgett to get hurt obviously, he got a good little bit of chances and an opportunity to play."While Caracter had the encouraging performance Saturday, Pitino would certainly like to have the height and experience of his junior center available to help defend against one of the top players in the Big East in Gray. Caracter is three inches shorter than Padgett, and while he's 30 pounds heavier, has played in just nine games this season due to a variety of off-the-court problems."We'll see what comes Monday," Caracter said quietly after Saturday's victory.The status of Padgett, who averages 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, remains in question for the Pitt matchup.Regardless of who starts at center Monday, Louisville needs a better performance from leading scorer Terrence Williams. The forward is averaging 12.4 points per game, but has totaled only 22 on 8-for-32 shooting over the last three games -- two of which were losses.Williams scored 25 points in a 61-57 loss to Pitt on Jan. 15, 2006. He was held to 11 points, however, the Panthers' 61-56 victory in the Big East tournament March 8.Those meetings are the only ones between Louisville and Pitt since the Cardinals won the first matchup 64-42 during the 1947-48 season.
|Avg Points Allowed||62.9||62.4|