Pitt, Penn State to play basketball for first time since 2005


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Pitt's first foray into the ACC/Big Ten Challenge later this year will feature a familiar rival's visit to Petersen Events Center.

The Panthers will play host to in-state rival Penn State Dec. 3, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday. The game will be part of the 15th annual Big Ten/ACC challenge.

The two teams have not played since 2005 after facing off annually for most of the 20th century. Both were members of the Eastern 8 Conference from 1976-79. Recently, they played a six-game series from 2000-2005.

"It's not often that you can pair rivals in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said in a statement. "Obviously ESPN jumped on this opportunity and it figures to be an exciting matchup for the players, fans and the entire state of Pennsylvania."

The Panthers won each of the past five games against Penn State by an average margin of 25.8 points. Pitt posted a 91-54 victory the previous time the teams met Dec. 10, 2005. After that, the series broke off, though Dixon has said he's in favor of playing Penn State in the future.

"We are excited to continue a tremendous rivalry with such a long and storied tradition between our two universities," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said Wednesday in a statement. "It's great that we can be a part of an event that also matches the top two basketball conferences in the nation."

Penn State leads the overall series, which dates to 1906, 75-70.

The series went on hiatus after a run of blowout Pitt victories, and this next matchup could be another. Pitt will be breaking in several new players, but was 24-9 this past season (12-6 in its final Big East Conference campaign) and made the NCAA tournament.

Penn State, meanwhile, finished 10-21, 2-16 in the Big Ten. One of those wins, though, came against Michigan, which lost in the national championship. The Nittany Lions will get point guard Tim Frazier back for a sixth year after he missed all but four games last year with a left Achilles' tendon injury.

This game is just a one-year affair as part of the Challenge, and doesn't necessarily signal a long-term renewal of the annual rivalry. Pitt and Penn State will renew their football rivalry, dormant since 2000, with a four-game series starting in 2016.

NOTE -- Pitt will reportedly welcome former Schenley star DeAndre Kane to the fold next season, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. A Pitt official said the move is not final yet. Kane, who teamed up with former Pitt star DeJuan Blair to win a PIAA title at Schenley in 2007, averaged 15.1 points per game this year for Marshall. Kane is set to graduate from Marshall, and should be eligible to enroll at Pitt and play in the fall. ... Guard Trey Zeigler, who left Pitt after one season after coming from Central Michigan, has decided to transfer to TCU.

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Mark Dent contributed to this report. Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published May 9, 2013 4:00 AM


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