Pitt's Brown scores 23 as Seton Hall loses third straight
PITTSBURGH -- Maybe Seton Hall guessed what kind of day it would be when the Pirates' bus got hung up after their midday shootaround and they hiked several blocks in knee-deep snow to their hotel.
During the game, it seemed as if Pittsburgh (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) was in fast forward and the Pirates were trudging wearily step by step in a blizzard, trying but failing to keep up with a motivated and determined opponent.
Gilbert Brown bounced back from a scoreless game with 23 points and Pittsburgh nearly shut out Seton Hall scoring leader Jeremy Hazell in an 83-58 rout Saturday that avenged a loss to the Pirates less than two weeks ago.
Hazell, the Big East's No. 2 scorer with a 23.0 points per game average, had his second successive subpar game against Pitt with two points on 1-of-7 shooting in 32 minutes after not starting.
"I guess when it rains, it pours," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "Or, like they say, when it snows, it snows. We had a tough one from the beginning ... walking to the hotel in a state of emergency in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe that affected us, I don't know."
The Pirates couldn't even get out of town immediately after the loss because Pittsburgh's airport was shut down by the 2-foot snowfall.
Hazell, held to nine points after getting into foul trouble during the Pirates' 64-61 victory on Jan. 24, scored 32 points in an 81-71 loss to No. 2 Villanova on Tuesday and had a combined 60 points in his previous two games. He was guarded mostly by Jermaine Dixon, one of the Big East's top shutdown defenders.
"I knew if we stopped him that we had a great chance to win," Dixon said. "Whenever he catches it, he's going to let it go, so I had to get up on him and play physical."
It might have helped Pitt that official Evon Burroughs didn't arrive because of the bad weather, forcing Mike Kitts and James Breeding to work a decidedly physical game by themselves.
Brown came out strong at the start after being shut out against West Virginia, scoring 11 points as Pitt (17-6, 7-4 Big East) took a 15-11 lead -- and causing a foot-stomping Gonzalez to switch off defenders against him several times, once only 30 seconds into the second half.
Brown has scored 25 points (South Florida), 0 and 23 in his last three games.
"Coming from that last game, not scoring and not being productive in any part of the game, I just really wanted to come out and be aggressive and assert myself in other ways if not scoring, but it just so happened it was scoring," Brown said. "It was a good feeling to go out there and make my first shot."
Dixon added 15 points, Brad Wanamaker had 13, Gary McGhee 12 and Ashton Gibbs 11 for Pittsburgh, which shot 51.7 percent to Seton Hall's 35.7 percent.
The Panthers pulled away by going on a 22-7 run after leading 41-37, causing the frustrated Pirates (12-9, 3-7) to draw three technical fouls during their third consecutive loss. The run started with Wanamaker's 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock. Wanamaker and McGhee had three-point plays during a 14-2 Pitt run in the first half.
Herb Pope, the 6-foot-8 power forward who grew up in nearby Aliquippa, Pa., missed his first eight shots while scoring nine points, 10 fewer than he had during the Pirates' home-court win against Pitt.
The victory was an important one for Pitt, which might drop out of the AP Top 25 after losing 70-51 to No. 6 West Virginia on Wednesday for their fourth loss in five games.
"They played probably as good as they've played all year," Gonzalez said of Pitt. "They were desperate."
The horrible weather made for an unusual home game for Pitt, with a weather-slimmed crowd of 6,681 that was only about half as large as the normal capacity turnout of 12,508.
Because some streets were impassable, Pitt urged ticketholders to stay home and watch on TV unless they could walk to the Petersen Events Center. However, a planned ESPN Regional telecast was scrapped early in the afternoon because of problems getting a production crew to the arena.
"It was a strange day. ... We're the only place in the country that tells people not to come and so we get [nearly] 7,000," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We can't do anything right marketing-wise."
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