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Pitt to Celebrate the 2002-03 Big East Championship Team Against No. 20 Miami on Jan. 28



Pitt will celebrate the 2002-03 Big East Championship Team this Saturday as they face off against No. 20 Miami at 4 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

The Panthers excelled in the 2002-03 season under head coach Ben Howland and the team finished 16-0 at home in the inaugural season of the Petersen Events Center, with the Oakland Zoo using the arena to create one of the toughest home court environments in the country.

Pitt ended that season 13-3 in Big East play, winning their second Big East West title and earning a first round bye in the Big East Tournament. Pitt defeated Providence 67-57 in the quarterfinals, dispatched of Boston College 61-48 in the semifinals and then dominated UConn, 74-56 to earn their first ever Big East Tournament Championship.

That win over UConn in the final proved a great win for Pitt, who lost in double-overtime to UConn in the 2002 Big East Championship game. Pitt also lost the 2001 Big East Final to Boston College as well, making this win the one that finally got them to the top of the conference.

Pitt then moved on to the NCAA Tournament, where they earned a No. 2 seed. They won in blowouts against No. 15 Wagner 87-61 in the First Round and then No. 7 Indiana, 74-52 in the Second Round, to make it to their second straight Sweet 16.

Pitt ran into No. 3 Marquette in that Sweet 16 matchup and fell 77-74, as future Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade put on a show, scoring a team high 22 points, including the go-ahead basket with about 30 seconds remaining.

The Panthers finished 2002-03 with a 28-5 record and set the program record for the fewest points allowed per game in a season, 59.2. They used their defense to great success, as they ranked in the Top Ten in the nation with a No. 5 scoring defense, No. 6 in field goal percentage defense and No. 10 in rebound margin.

They used their defense to propel a strong offense as well with the No. 2 scoring margin, No. 2 field goal percentage and No. 4 assists per game in the country.

Pitt also joined one of five schools (Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Duke) to stay ranked in the top 10 throughout the 2002-03 season and earned a ranking as high as No. 2.

Seniors in guard Brandin Knight and forwards in Ontario Lett and Donatas Zavackas finished their Pitt careers with 89 wins and 40 losses, the best four-year record for any player in school history.

The members of that Pitt team that are scheduled to join the celebrations on Saturday include Howland, assistant coach Barry Rohrssen, Lett, Zavackas, Julius Page, Chevon Troutman, Carl Krauser, Mark McCarroll, Levon Kendall, Yuri Demetris, Carlo Dorazio, and Gino Federico.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Great memories .. should be a nice celebration for the guys.

Hope it creates some buzz for the game. We really need to, at least, split with UM.

Every game from here out is so meaningful for the final conf standings. Interestingly, most of the teams currently ahead of us, have tougher schedules remaining (based on current records). H2P !

1 year ago
Reply to  TJ

If I recall, Pitt would have taken a substantial lead in the first half if not for Marquette’s Travis Diener bombing like 5 threes to keep them in it, and then Wade took over the game in the second half and basically single-handedly won the game for them. Tough loss, but he was obviously a one of a kind talent.

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