Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wake Forest Could Be Cure for Reeling Panthers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wake Forest Could Be Cure for Reeling Panthers

Article excerpt

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Pitt was blown out of the Dean E. Smith Center Sunday by North Carolina, but if there was a silver lining for the Panthers it is that they didn't have much time dwell on it.

The Panthers (17-7, 6-6 ACC) had one day of practice to get ready for Wake Forest (10-15, 1-12), which visits the Petersen Events Center tonight.

It is exactly the kind of game Pitt needs to get back on track after losing three games in a row, all to ranked opponents.

The Demon Deacons began the season with all kinds of optimism and looked like the most-improved team in the ACC after starting 9-3, notching victories against Indiana, UCLA, Arkansas and LSU. Since conference games began, Wake Forest has struggled and the Demon Deacons have lost 10 games in a row.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Monday on an ACC teleconference that the Panthers haven't been world-beaters of late and aren't in a position to overlook any opponent. He also pointed out that the Demon Deacons beat the Panthers a year ago, 69-66, and most of the players on both teams return.

That should make for a tough game.

"We are coming off a loss, so that should really get our guys up and ready to play," Dixon said. "And then, when you look at their matchups, their bigs inside, [Devin] Thomas is a threat to us, so we've got to do a good job of keeping him off the offensive glass.

"And we need to contain the penetration of all three of their perimeter guys, too, because they did a good job of driving against us last year. So, we have to do a good job of containing them off the ball screen. We have to respond to a loss by coming out and playing our best game."

Dixon said he isn't ready to panic about the Panthers' fortunes this year, even though he knows a lot of people around the program likely are, given their recent struggles.

He said the they need to string some wins together to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. They need to focus on playing better than they have in recent games and deal with the correctable mistakes. …

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