9:00 PM ET, February 15, 2008
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Ronald Ramon didn't miss a beat when a teammate's injury forced him to take over as Pittsburgh's starting point guard. The Panthers hope his transition back to shooting guard is just as smooth.With point guard Levance Fields on the verge of returning from a seven-week absence, Ramon could see another change of position as the 22nd-ranked Panthers visit Big East rival Marquette on Friday.Fields was averaging 11.9 points, 5.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds and then-No. 6 Pittsburgh was undefeated when the junior broke his left foot in a loss to Dayton on Dec. 29.Shortly after suffering the injury, Fields targeted Friday's matchup with Marquette for his return, though doctors estimated he'd be sidelined eight to 12 weeks."I'm looking forward to playing on Friday, as long as the foot feels good," Fields said after returning to practice this week. "So everything is going as planned. It was a little sore (after practice Monday). Of course, after not doing anything like that the past five or six weeks, you expect that. But it wasn't painful."If Fields can return, Ramon will likely shift back to his natural position at shooting guard. The Panthers (19-5, 7-4), though, might not want to mess with a good thing.Ramon has done an admirable job filling in for Fields, beginning when he delivered the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 10 assists in his first start at point guard Jan. 2."I never thought there was going to be much of an adjustment," said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, whose team is seeking its seventh straight 20-win season. "As a player, Ronald gives you everything he has every night. You can't ask more of a player than that."Ramon made the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in last Thursday's 55-54 victory over West Virginia, and had 15 points on five 3-pointers with six assists as Pitt beat Providence 82-63 on Tuesday."I always have confidence in my shot," he said after the win over the Friars. "What I noticed tonight was that other guys had confidence in me too. Guys were getting into the paint tonight, and when they got stopped, they didn't hesitate to kick it out to me. It's easy for me to find a rhythm that way, and I was able to score some points."Ramon and the Panthers will go for their third straight win when they meet the Golden Eagles, who are unranked for the first week this season after suffering back-to-back defeats to Louisville and then-No. 22 Notre Dame.Marquette, though, followed those losses with an 89-64 win at Seton Hall on Tuesday. Lazar Hayward scored a career high-tying 23 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit three 3-pointers for the Golden Eagles, who made 10-of-21 from behind the arc. They're 22-for-46 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range in their last two games.Marquette will try for its fourth win in five games against Pitt. The Golden Eagles won three straight in the series from Feb. 18, 2006-March 3, 2007, but had their streak snapped March 8 with an 89-79 loss in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.Fields had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in that win, while Hayward was held to 11 points and two rebounds on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.Pitt is 1-3 in its four visits to Marquette. The Panthers have lost three straight there since a 24-18 win in 1930.
|Avg Points Allowed||65.2||64.3|