GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers look to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they host the Cal Poly Mustangs in non-conference action at the Petersen Events Center.
Cal Poly dropped to 4-6 overall and 0-4 on the road on Tuesday when it was defeated, 79-59, by Loyola Marymount at Gersten Pavilion. The Mustangs have played well on the defensive end. They ranked 18th nationally and lead the Big West Conference with only 61.4 points allowed per game. However, two of the team's victories came over non-Division I foes and it has been outscored by an average of 17.3 points per game in true road tests. The Mustangs trailed LMU by only two points at the intermission on Tuesday, but they were held to 34.5 percent shooting from the field and went 1-of-10 from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes of the contest.
The Panthers were stellar on the offensive end through their 10-0 start to the 2013-14 season as they averaged 21 more points per game than their opposition on just under 50 percent efficiency from the field. Pittsburgh scored 76 points or more in all 10 of its outings before Tuesday's uncharacteristically abysmal performance. Although Jamie Dixon's squad converted only 31.4 percent of its shots from the floor including a 2-of-13 clip from behind the 3-point line against Cincinnati, it held a one-point lead over the Bearcats with only seconds left to play. However, a late offensive rebound putback by Cincinnati ended the Panthers' quest for perfection.
This will be the first meeting in history between Cal Poly and the Panthers.
Chris Eversley was the lone bright spot for Cal Poly in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7 senior forward knocked down 9-of-16 shots from the floor en route to 21 points and seven rebounds. The rest of the Mustangs converted only 14- of-44 field goal attempts. Cal Poly turned the ball over 15 times and finished the contest with just eight assists while LMU held a 23-9 edge in free-throw line scoring. Eversley is pacing the team with averages of 13.3 points and 8.2 boards. Sophomore swingman Dave Nwaba is contributing 12.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per tilt.
Senior forward Talib Zanna paced Pittsburgh in the scoring column in the loss to the Bearcats with 12 points. Senior guard Lamar Patterson tallied 11 points on just 2-of-5 shooting from the floor in the setback. Patterson has scored in double-figures in 10 of the Panthers' 11 games and averages a team-high 15.9 ppg. Zanna is second on the team with 12.6 ppg and also is Pittsburgh's top rebounder at 7.5 rpg. The team has been virtually unstoppable in its inaugural season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference due to its exceptional depth. Cameron Wright, Durand Johnson and James Robinson all play significant roles on the offensive end of the floor for Dixon also.
This game will mark the Mustangs' first-ever trip to the state of Pennsylvania. Cal Poly has a very slim chance of leaving the Keystone State triumphant, especially since the Panthers will be looking to bounce back strong from their heartbreaking loss to Cincinnati.
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