Monday's game became a character test for No. 25 Notre Dame, one the Irish found a way to ace.
Looking shaky early against No. 20 Pittsburgh, the Irish fell into a 16-point hole in less than 13 minutes. The Irish got it turned around with defense and posted a 51-42 Big East victory over the Panthers.
Notre Dame led by as many as nine in the second half after outscoring the Panthers 48-23 following a first-half technical foul on Mike Brey.
Notre Dame's Jerian Grant contributed several big shots in the second half, when he scored 11 of his 13 points. Jack Cooley added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Irish.
Winners of five straight in the series against Pittsburgh and closing in on a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Irish improved to 21-6, 9-5 in the Big East, and are alone in fifth place.
Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6) has lost two in a row, both to ranked teams, including Saturday's loss to Marquette.
Notre Dame found a way to win Monday by doing something it could not do two days earlier at Providence: defend. After allowing Providence to do as it pleased -- the Friars scored 71 points and outrebounded the Irish by 11 without encountering much resistance -- Notre Dame was a more determined bunch Monday.
The Irish held the Panthers to 34.8 percent shooting. That included 0-for-8 from 3-point range, the first time in Brey's tenure at Notre Dame that a league opponent couldn't get at least one 3 to fall against the Irish.
Notre Dame also dominated the backboard, finishing with 40 rebounds to 25 for Pittsburgh. And for one of the few times, it wasn't just Cooley working as a one-man show on the boards. Each of the five starters had at least four rebounds.
"The way we rebounded today was phenomenal," said Cooley. "To out-rebound them that badly is huge. It just shows how tough our team is."