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Pitt Vs. Rutgers: Panthers Try To Bounce Back After Notre Dame Loss

After falling to Notre Dame on Monday, Pitt is in the rare position of having to rebound from a loss. The team only has two losses on the season and will look to get things turned around Saturday at Rutgers.

The RAC can be an intimidating place to play, but Pitt has had little trouble there lately. The team has won its past five games there and hasn't lost at Rutgers since 2002-03.

The Scarlet Knights are even more vulnerable with the transfer of Mike Rosario to Florida and the loss of Hamady Ndiaye to graduation from last season. But head coach and former Pitt assistant Mike Rice has done a good job there in leading Rutgers to an 8-12 record. Rice has Rutgers headed in the right direction and has an above-average recruiting class coming in next season.

Senior forward Jonathan Mitchell leads Rutgers with 13 points and nearly six rebounds per game.

Rutgers might see its toughest challenge in the paint as the team has no players taller than 6-foot-8. With that lack of size, the Scarlet Knights might be hard pressed to deal with not only Pitt's 6-foot-10 center Gary McGhee, but also backups Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor.

Despite that size disadvantage, though, Rice says defending the interior is actually a strength of the team:

But Rutgers' post defense has been the team's calling card throughout the conference season, Rice said.

"We've been somewhat successful in defending the paint," Rice said. "And I think that's been our first point of emphasis when we went into the Big East — where maybe our weaknesses are and where we have to improve as a team. I think defending the paint has been a positive for us so far."

Pitt will also be looking to win its 20th game for the tenth consecutive season. All of the wins in that span have come under Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.