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ACC action pits Panthers against Terrapins

<p>The 20th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers continue their first run through the Atlantic Coast Conference, as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in conference action at the Comcast Center on Saturday evening.</p>

College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers continue their first run through the Atlantic Coast Conference, as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in conference action at the Comcast Center on Saturday evening.

Jamie Dixon's Panthers are an impressive 17-2 overall and have certainly delivered in their first season in the ACC, sitting just a game behind league leading Syracuse with a 5-1 league ledger. Pittsburgh has won seven of its last eight games, including a 76-43 whipping of Clemson on Tuesday. The team's two losses on the year have come against nationally-ranked foes in Cincinnati and Syracuse.

Mark Turgeon's Terrapins are sitting at 11-8 overall, with an even 3-3 mark in the ACC. Maryland which will make the move to the Big Ten next season, has dropped three of its last four contests and enters this game off a 65-56 road loss at NC State on Monday.

Maryland leads the all-time series with Pittsburgh by a count of 5-3, but the Panthers are seeking the regular-season sweep after routing the Terps in Pittsburgh on Jan. 6, 79-59.

The Panthers are getting the job done at both ends of the floor this season and as a result, enjoy a stellar +16.8 scoring margin. An offensively efficient squad, Pitt is netting 76.0 ppg on .487 shooting. The defense has been even more impressive, with Pittsburgh allowing just 59.2 ppg on the year, holding foes under 40 percent shooting (.397), while outrebounding them by over nine boards per game. Lamar Patterson has been the driving force for Pitt this year. leading the team in both scoring (17.4 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). Talib Zanna has evolved into one of the ACC's top big men. The 6-foot-9 center is shooting .617 from the field, averaging 13.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Cameron Wright rounds out the top scoring threats on the roster with 10.8 ppg.

Pittsburgh used a scorching 57.1 percent shooting effort in the first half to take a 17-point lead into intermission against Clemson and never looked back in the 33-point romp. Zanna had a near perfect performance, hitting 9-of-10 shots from the floor to lead all scorers with 22 points. Patterson added 13 points and six assists to the cause, while Wright and Josh Newkirk checked in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Despite holding a 50-41 edge in rebounding, Maryland was unable to overcome a poor performance from the floor, shooting just 31.4 percent against NC State on the road earlier in the week, falling to the Wolfpack by nine, after taking a nine-point lead into halftime (29-20). Evan Smotrycz and Dez Wells led the way in defeat with 10 points each. Charles Mitchell finished with just eight points, but did grab a career-high 18 rebounds in the game.

The Terrapins are putting up modest numbers at the offensive end of the floor at 72.0 ppg on .429 shooting. However, the scoring has been spread out, with five players currently in double figures. Wells leads the team at 14.3 ppg. Jake Layman is next in line with 12.2 ppg. Smotrycz (11.7 ppg), Seth Allen (10.3 ppg) and Nick Faust (10.2 ppg) make consistent contributions as well.

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