Sunday, March 22, 2009

PITT AWAKENS FROM SLUMBER, DOWNS TOUGH OKLAHOMA ST. 84-76

"P.B.& G." 100th Post

"P.B.& G." 100th Post


"P.B.& G." 100th Post


"P.B. & G." 100th Post


"P.B. & G." 100th Post


First- Ever post, Oct. 18, 2008. Thanks For Reading!!!












Above Left: Jamie Dixon's hair color returned to normal today after the Panthers defeated a tough Oklahoma State team 84-76. Dixon hair had changed several shades of gray during the awful East Tennessee State victory on Friday.

After Watching Pitt "stumbling, fumbling and bumbling" to a victory over 16th seed East Tennessee State on Friday, it did nothing to encourage Panther fans that they would be able to do better against the much-tougher Oklahoma State Cowboys on Sunday. Oh what a difference 48 hours can make. Somehow, someway, the Panthers were able to shake off the nightmares that were East Tennessee and West Virginia and regain their stride as a contender, defeating the Cowboys 84-76.

Make no mistake, this was a tough win against a very gritty Oklahoma State team that had defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round on a shot by their rugged guard, Byron Eaton with 7.2 seconds left. However, this game was a very interesting contest that gained in intrigue as it progressed. It did not lack in physicality either as on two separate occasions collisions between the combatants left players such as DeJuan Blair, Byron Eaton and Levance Fields writhing on the court in pain. Fortunately all players were able to return.

Oklahoma State shot out to an early eight point lead and the immediate concern was that with the Panthers' shooting being so poor the last two games, that they wouldn't be able to stay with the red-hot Cowboys for long. The Panthers battled back, mostly on the back of Sam Young who exploded for 32 points in this game. For a period of about five minutes, the teams seemed to be trading three pointers nearly every trip down the court. When the dust had settled, the score showed Pitt still trailing by three with 15 seconds left and Levance Fields at the line.

Apparently there was some confusion among the Oklahoma State players who thought that Fields was shooting two. When the first shot bounded off the rim, Fields alertly ran under the hoop, dove on the ball and called timeout. Upon resumption of play, Fields made a beautiful three-pointer to knot the score at 49. It was one of those plays that when they happen, you know they're going to have a lasting impact on the game.

The Panthers came back in the second half as a much more methodical team. The pace was slowed and Oklahoma State cooled off beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Pitt's big men started exerting their influence on the game and Pitt opened up a ten point lead. However, this Oklahoma State was not going to quit and they gamely battled back to even take a one point lead very briefly inside of five minutes.

However, the relentless rebounding and inside presence of Sam Young and DeJuan Blair proved to be just too much for the Cowboys to overcome as they ended up on the short end of the 84-76 score. For Panther fans though, the victory was much more than just another ticket to the Sweet 16 next week, this time against Sean Miller's Xavier Musketeers. No, the cause for celebration was that the Panthers were able to get their "mojo" back as a team and look more like the group that had won 29 games prior to this one.

The Panthers now stand at a sparkling 30-4. Their coach, Jamie Dixon has now won more games (162) than any coach ever in his first six years of coaching ( an amazing 27 win average per year)...and he's still not finished yet this year! The Panthers should match up well against Xavier and potentially Duke after that. But you can only play one game at a time, so there's no sense in looking ahead. None of these games will be easy. At the very least though, by playing a game that was up to their immense capabilities, Panther fans can once again optimistically look forward to a very long and deep run into this tournament. It's a good thing too, because I don't think many of them could have handled another West Virginia or East Tennessee-type of game. Pitt officials would have been forced to lock the doors.. to the roof on the Cathedral of Learning.


Above: There were storm clouds gathering around the Cathedral of Learning, but fortunately they blew over.