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This Date in Panthers History - March 8, 2001

Panthers defense smothers All-American Murphy

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2000-01 Pitt Panthers came into the Big East Tournament as the 5th seed in the west division. After taking out the East 4th seed Miami Hurricanes 78-69 in the first round, they took on the West division leader Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish, of course, were led by two-time first team All-American Troy Murphy. The junior Murphy had led the Big East in scoring the past two seasons, easily clearing 20 ppg in both seasons. Predictably, Murphy was also the two-time defending Big East POY. Going into the game, Murphy had scored in double figures for 78 straight games, dating back to a 5 point 0-11 from the field performance his freshman year. Murphy was such a skilled scorer, he cleared 2000 career points in only three seasons.

You’ll never guess what happened next...

Well, obviously you know because this game happened a long time ago, but Pitt put the clamps on Murphy, denying him the ball on every possession. Murphy shot 2-11 that night and only scored eight points. Rather than doubling Murphy once he gained possession in the post as teams had done all season, Pitt sent their second defender over to help deny the big man before he could gain possession.

Ricardo Greer scored 17 points to lead four Panthers in double figures. Brandin Knight had 10 points and 11 assists, Isaac Hawkins had 12 rebounds, and Jaron Brown scored 14 off the bench.

Pitt would continue their magical run by defeating Syracuse the next night before falling to Boston College in the championship. Even though, they failed in their ultimate goal that weekend, the defensive identity was born that night in MSG against one of the best players in college basketball.