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Pitt-UConn notes and quotes; J.J. Moore, UConn talk about charge call

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*** Pitt is the No. 13 seed and will play at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, depending on the outcome of tonight’s St. John’s at Rutgers game.

If St. John’s wins, Pitt will No. 12-seed Rutgers (13-18, 5-13) at 2 p.m. Rutgers routed Pitt, 62-39, on Jan. 11 to hand the Panthers their worst-ever loss at Petersen Events Center.

 If Rutgers wins, Pitt will play No. 12-seed St. John’s (6-12, 13-18). Pitt routed St. John’s 89-69, on Wednesday at Petersen Events Center, snapping a five-game losing streak.

A first-round victory would give Pitt another shot at fifth-seeded Georgetown, which Pitt beat, 72-60, on Jan. 28.

*** Pitt sophomore J.J. Moore, who scored a game-high 16 points, talked after the game about the charge call in Pitt’s 74-65 loss at UConn this afternoon.

With Pitt down 63-61 with under 2 minutes to play, Moore was called for the charge after splitting two defenders at the top of the key and driving to the hoop. UConn forward Roscoe Smith slid over and got the call on a bang-bang play. Shabazz Napier hit a 3-pointer for a 66-61 lead with 1:02 to play and Pitt never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

Here is what Moore said after the game:

“I take blame for the charge on me. But we fought back. We fought hard. …I saw the opening and I thought I had it for a second, but at the end of the day it wasn’t a good play.”

Coach Jamie Dixon didn’t want to talk about the call, but he said Moore made the right play by attacking the basket. 

“I’m not going to comment on calls,” Dixon said. “I’ve never done that and I’m not going to start now. We put ourselves in a good position. I think we did the right things. I thought J.J. played very well. He’s getting better and better at getting to the basket, making good decisions at the end and getting to the free throw line. I really like how we moved the ball down the stretch.”

*** UConn associate head coach George Blaney, who handled the post-game press conference because coach Jim Calhoun (back surgery) was fatigued, said it was one of the biggest plays of the game.  

“That’s the first charge we’ve taken in six months, I think,” Blaney said.

Napier also praised Smith’s defensive play.

“We’ve been trying to get a charge out of anybody this whole season. That charge signified how effective a charge is. It came at the moment we needed it. We tell each other, ‘first one to get a charge, I kid you not, it’s going to be big.  It’s going to be big.’  He got that charge and I couldn’t help my emotions but to jump on him and grab him and tell him, ‘you did it you did it!  You go that first charge.’ That was that big moment, that big key because we needed that stop to prevail.”

**** Dixon said freshman guard John Johnson, who missed practice yesterday with back spasms, was limited. Johnson, who played three minutes, has been bothered by the back spasms all season, Dixon said.

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