Monday, March 23, 2009

From combined dispatches

NO. 1 Pittsburgh 84, NO. 8 Oklahoma St. 76: The Panthers powered their way to a familiar place.

Sam Young scored 32 points and DeJuan Blair added another double-double as the top-seeded Panthers advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth time in eight years with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.

Pittsburgh (30-4) will play Xavier in the semifinals in Boston on Thursday.

Obi Muonelo scored 19 points for the eighth-seeded Cowboys (23-12), who gave the Panthers all they could handle before losing their touch in the final minutes. Oklahoma State made 10 3-pointers in the first half but made only two of 12 from long range after halftime.

The Panthers, who played poorly and barely escaped a first-round upset against No. 16 seed East Tennessee State, showed a champion’s poise down the stretch.

The Cowboys tied it at 74-74 with 2:42 left on an inside shot by Marshall Moses, and the basket had the University of Dayton Arena fans, including some of Pitt’s Big East brethren from Louisville, thinking they might see the tournament’s first No. 1 seed go down.

But Pitt’s pudgy point guard Levance Fields drove for a layup, and after Oklahoma State’s James Anderson missed a 3-pointer, Fields dropped a 3 from up top to make it 79-74 with 1:27 left.

Byron Eaton’s two free throws got the Cowboys within 79-76, and it looked like Oklahoma State would get the ball back when Fields missed a long jumper and the ball caromed high in the air.

Blair, though, wanted it more.

The powerful 6-foot-7 forward rose up and snatched the board with his massive hands and dropped it off the glass to give Pitt an 81-76 lead with 40 seconds left.

Oklahoma State, which shot 63 percent in the first half, couldn’t get another shot to fall, and the Panthers put it away at the line.

After the final horn, there was little celebrating by Panthers, who calmly lined up to shake hands with the Cowboys.

But Pitt has unfinished business in this tournament.

“It’s a tough bracket we’re in,” said Blair, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds. “We’re just fighting through it.”

NO. 4 Xavier 60, NO. 12 Wisconsin 49: B.J. Raymond scored 15 points, and the Musketeers finally broke through the Badgers’ defense midway through the second half, pulling away to a victory in the second round in Boise, Idaho.

The Musketeers (27-7) struggled as the Badgers controlled the pace for the first 30 minutes before Xavier pulled away with a 13-4 run and hung on to the lead from the foul line.

Wisconsin (20-13) kept Xavier off balance, but the tight defense wasn’t quite enough to overcome 29 percent shooting. The Badgers were just 16-for-56 from the floor and made three of 20 3-point attempts.

Marcus Landry scored 18 and Trevon Hughes had 17 points for the Badgers.

Derrick Brown added 15 points and C.J. Anderson pulled down eight rebounds for fourth-seeded Xavier, which will play in Boston on Thursday despite the sloppy performance - the Musketeers were 18-for-46 from the floor and just 18-for-26 from the foul line.

Wisconsin patiently worked the shot clock and even led by a point with about 9:10 remaining before the Musketeers cracked through.

Dante Jackson hit two free throws to give Xavier a 38-37 lead with 8:57 left, starting the 13-4 run that put the Badgers away. After Jackson’s foul shots, Jamel McLean blocked a shot by Landry, then ran down to the other end and took a pass from Terrell Holloway for a two-handed dunk and a 40-37 lead with about 8:30 left.

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