Pitt guard Dixon chasing team milestone

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Pitt senior Jermaine Dixon watched Sam Young, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs complete their senior seasons with a perfect record at the Petersen Events Center after the Panthers defeated No. 1 Connecticut in the regular-season finale last season.

Dixon cannot duplicate the feat of that class, but he can do the next best thing.

Dixon, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard who came to Pitt from Tallahassee Community College last year, can complete his two-year career at Pitt with a 36-1 home record if the Panthers can win their final two games Thursday against Providence and Saturday against Rutgers.

"That would be big," Dixon said Tuesday after practice. "I told them I never wanted to lose in the Pete. But we took one loss this year. Not losing [another] game in this building would be great. It's something I want to do."

The team from a year ago became the fourth in school history to complete a season with a perfect home record. The current team can join select company by finishing the season with only one loss at home.

Since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002, four teams finished undefeated or with one loss. The 2008-09 and the 2002-03 teams did not lose at home. Coach Jaime Dixon's first team in 2003-04 and the 2005-06 group finished with one loss.

Pitt's only loss at home this season came Jan. 20 against Georgetown. The Panthers have won 36 of their previous 37 home games overall.

Pitt's all-time record at the Petersen Events Center is 130-11. That averages out to 1.375 losses a season since the building opened.

"Before I got here, I know they never really lost here," Jermaine Dixon said. "I'm glad we kept that tradition up when I was here."

Only one other team in the Big East Conference can boast of having only one loss at home this season. Villanova enters its final home game this weekend against West Virginia tied with Pitt for best home record in the league.

It's easy to take Pitt's home record for granted because the Panthers have so much success at Petersen Events Center year after year. But a quick glance around Division I suggests it's rare for teams to have such a distinct home-court edge.

Some of the best teams in Division I have multiple losses at home this season:

• No. 1 Syracuse has two losses on the season, both in the Carrier Dome.

• No. 7 Purdue, No. 10 West Virginia and No. 11 Michigan State also have two home losses.

• No. 5 Kansas State has three home losses.

• No. 19 Georgetown has four home losses.

The home schedule this season has been filled with some memorable games. Pitt defeated Louisville Jan. 16 in overtime after erasing a five-point deficit in the final minute of regulation. The Panthers erased a seven-point deficit in the final 45 seconds of regulation and stormed back to beat West Virginia Feb. 12 in triple-overtime.

And they exacted some revenge on Villanova Feb. 21 10 months after the Wildcats knocked them out of the NCAA tournament.

Jermaine Dixon said the West Virginia game and the game against Connecticut last year are his two favorite memories from his time at Pitt. Coincidentally, he fouled out of both games.

"They were both great wins for us," he said. "Fun to play in and watch when I was done."

NOTE -- Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said that redshirt freshman Dwight Miller reinjured the heel that kept him out for most of last season. Miller was expected to have an MRI Tuesday night.

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1230. First Published March 3, 2010 5:00 AM


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