Pittsburgh Smothers Indiana

For one fleeting moment early in the second half, Indiana sensed they had a chance to take control of the game. Down by 10 at the half, the Hoosiers had chipped the lead down to 4 at the 15:22 mark after Bracey Wright rebounded his own free throw miss and turned it into a layup.

That's when Pitt's defense decided to put the clamps on the Hoosiers. Indiana would only convert 6 more field goals the rest of the way. It was obvious the Hoosiers were just the next team to wear down under the intense Panther pressure.

While Pitt's defense forced Indiana to work for every shot, the Hoosiers inside work broke down. Carl Krauser and Brandin Knight continued to feed the ball and slash the ball inside to Jaron Brown, Ontario Lett, and Chevon Troutman for easy, uncontested layups.

When Knight was pulled midway through the second half after picking up his 3rd foul, Krauser's quickness kept senior point guard Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornesby on their heals all afternoon.

Jaron Brown led the Panthers with 20 rather quiet points and Brandin Knight collected 17 points, seven assists, and five steals.

The Hoosiers seemed to lose track of Brown early and often throughout the contest. Brown took advantage of being defended by the shorter, weaker Coverdale - an early mismatch.

George Leach led the Hoosiers with 15 points, while Coverdale was held by Pitt's Julius Page to 6 points on 2 of 6 shooting from the field. Coverdale was the mastermind leader behind Indiana's surprise run to the NCAA Championship Game last year. There would be no such run this year.

Page hounded Coverdale all game while Pitt defended Indiana's pick-and-roll sets to perfection.

Perhaps most importantly, the Panthers committed only 6 fouls in the first half and not one player had more than 1. Pitt's foul shooting woes continued early, but a late hot streak picked the average up to a respectable level. The Panthers hit 20 of 28 from the line, an average of 71.4 percent.

The Panthers led 31 – 21 at the half, but that lead could have easily been more if the Panthers had not squandered many easy inside baskets. Leach, at 6' 10", seemed to force the Panthers' big men into unnecessarily altering gimme shots early in the first half.

Pitt meets #3 seed Marquette in the round of sixteen.

--John Biles

Panther Digest Top Stories