PITTSBURGH — Gilbert Brown bounced back from a scoreless game with 23 points and No. 22 Pittsburgh nearly shut out Seton Hall scoring leader Jeremy Hazell in an 83-58 rout Saturday that avenged a loss to the Pirates less than two weeks ago.
Hazell, the Big East’s No. 2 scorer with a 23.0 points per game average, had his second successive subpar game against Pitt with two points on 1-of-7 shooting in 32 minutes after not starting.
Hazell, held to nine points after getting into foul trouble during the Pirates’ 64-61 victory on Jan. 24, scored 32 points in an 81-71 loss to No. 2 Villanova on Tuesday and had a combined 60 points in his previous two games.
Jermaine Dixon added 15 points, Brad Wanamaker had 13, Gary McGhee 12 and Ashton Gibbs 11 for Pittsburgh (17-6, 7-4 in Big East). The Panthers pulled away by going on a 22-7 run after leading 41-37 — causing the frustrated Pirates (12-9, 3-7) to draw three technical fouls during their third consecutive loss.
The victory was an important one for Pitt, which may drop out of the AP Top 25 after losing 70-51 to No. 6 West Virginia on Wednesday. The Panthers had lost four of five after vaulting to No. 9 in the poll and, with a rematch against West Virginia and a visit by Villanova awaiting in their next five games, the Panthers probably couldn’t keep losing if they are to play in a ninth consecutive NCAA tournament.
Brown came out strong at the start after being shut out against West Virginia, scoring 11 points as Pitt took a 15-11 lead — and causing a foot-stomping Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez to switch off defenders against Brown several times, once only 30 seconds into the second half.
Brown has scored 25 points (South Florida), 0 and 23 in his last three games.
The Pirates came back to take an 18-17 lead, but Pitt went on a 14-2 run that included three-point plays by McGhee and Wanamaker and was ended by Brown’s layup to make it 31-20. Wanamaker also was held scoreless by West Virginia.
Herb Pope, the 6-foot-8 power forward who grew up in nearby Aliquippa, Pa., missed his first eight shots while scoring nine points, 10 fewer than he had during the Pirates’ home-court win against Pitt.
Pitt still hasn’t been swept in a season series by the Pirates since 1993-94. Seton Hall lost its 16th straight on the road against ranked teams dating to a 65-61 victory against then-No. 8 Pitt on March 3, 2006.
It was an unusual Big East home game for Pitt, with a weather-slimmed crowd of 6,681 that was only about half as large as the normal capacity turnout of 12,508 and the game was not televised.
A 2-foot snowfall that ended at midday led school officials to urge ticketholders to stay home and watch on TV unless they could walk to the Petersen Events Center. However, a planned ESPN Regional telecast that was to have been shown locally was scrapped early in the afternoon because of problems getting a full production crew to the arena.