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04 March 2009

Panthers Roll Golden Warriors, 90-75

Pitt put on a grand performance for assistant coach Brandin Knight, who's #20 was hung from the rafters in a pre-game ceremony. He becomes the 4th player to have his number retired, joining Don Hennon's #10, Billy Knight's #34 and Charles Smith's #32. Brandin led Pitt to two Big East regular season titles from 1999-2003. I recall with great joy watching him play all 4 years that he was at Pitt. Watching him go from playing on a not very good team, a good team and two great teams under Ben Howland. His first two seasons were my junior and senior years at Pitt. His Pitt playing career also mirrored Ben Howland's coaching career at Pitt.

The retirement of his number was done moreso for what he did for the entire program that what he did on the court. He did great on the court, yes, but his numbers and output do not justify the retiring of a number. This was done because is known somewhat as the face of the turnaround of the program. He was there since the beginning of it and he was instrumental in it. His career accolades are listed below.

* Named to the 2002-03 Wooden All-America team, one of only 10 players nationwide selected to the squad.

* 2002-03 Associated Press honorable mention All-America selection.

* Selected 2001-02 Associated Press Third Team All-America and to the 2001-02 The Sporting News All America Second eam.n Two-time USBWA All-Region selection (2001-02 and 2002-03).

* Named Big East co-Player of the Year, Big East Most Improved Player, and First Team All-Big East in 2001-02.* 2001-02 USBWA/NABC All-District Team selection.

* Concluded career as school recordholder in career assists and career steals.

The Panthers led by as many as 10 points in the first half and they were up 43-36 at halftime. Coming out of halftime, though, Marquette went on a 21-5 run to go up 57-48 with 15:56 left in the contest. It didn't seem like time to panic, and it turned to be no big deal. Pitt promptly went on a 21-2 run. Pitt started making shots, going on streaks of 6 and 8 straight field goals during the second half, and all of Marquette's 3 point shots stopped falling in. Marquette had great ball movement and strong dribble-drive execution, but they didn't execute enough at the rim and Pitt's defense did enough to keep them at bay.

Blair led the team with 23 points. He also pulled down 9 boards. He was dominant underneath. Sam Young chipped in 18 points and 8 boards, Jermaine Dixon had 13 points, 4 boards, and 4 helpers, and Levance Fields had 17 points and 10 assists. Pitt was 34-54 from the field for 63%, while Marquette was 26-61 for 42.6%.

The Panthers now prepare for Saturday's huge, much anticipated noon showdown with Connecticut. Chants of "We want Uconn!" were heard last night with about 3 minutes left in the game. We will get them.

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