February 9, 2003 – Notre Dame 66, Pittsburgh 64
It didn’t take long for Mike Brey to put Notre Dame back on the map. In his first three seasons, he led the Irish to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
In 2003, Notre Dame earned what was at the time their best ranking in the country at No. 5. The Irish took that ranking into the Petersen Events Center for the first meeting with No. 6 Pittsburg that season. A second-half 16-0 run overwhelmed the Irish and led to a 72-55 rout.
Previously beating No. 13 Marquette, No. 9 Maryland and No. 2 Texas consecutively, Notre Dame knew they could run with the best of them despite the lopsided defeat to the Panthers.
With the next round held in South Bend, the Irish wouldn’t fall twice.
Pittsburg entered the Purcell Pavilion now ranked No. 4. With the Irish ranked No. 10, the two programs put on a top-ten showdown that went down to the wire.
Chris Thomas, who went 2-for-15 from the field in the previous matchup between the two, put together a 24-point and eight assists performance. It was a game where his performance was almost overlooked by Brandin Knight.
Notre Dame took a three-point lead with 1:57 remaining. But as Pitt continued pushing, Knight hit his only basket of the game. His three-pointer tied the game with 32 seconds left.
Thomas drove right at Knight in hopes to answer his last shot, but the defense was there. Instead, Thomas dished the ball to Torin Francis who put in the game-winner off the glass with .6 seconds remaining.