Pittsburgh vs. Central Florida Tournament Preview

The Pittsburgh Panthers will venture to Milwaukee, WI Friday night for a 9:55 PM EST game against Central Florida. The Bradley Center will play host to the first round NCAA Tournament game. The #3 seed Pittsburgh Panthers will meet the #14 seed Central Florida Golden Knights.<br><br> Pittsburgh (29-4) enters the game as the Big East regular season champions and Conference tournament runners-up.

Central Florida (25-5) finished 2nd in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and defeated Troy State 60-55 in the finals to win their conference tournament. The Golden Knights' only game against a tournament eligible team was a 59-39 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Florida Gators.

Head Coach Kirk Speraw brings the Golden Knights into Friday's contest with a school record (25-5).

The Golden Knights are led by 6'5" SR forward Dexter Lyons, who enters the game averaging 18.3 points per game. Lyons has scored 20 or more points 11 times this season. He was 2nd in the conference in 3-pt. shooting percentage hitting 44% of his shots beyond the arc. Lyons was named to the 1st team Atlantic Sun Conference Team, and was the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

Senior 6'9" center Roberto Morentin leads the Golden Knights with 6.8 rebounds per contest and 78.6% free throw percentage. Other players to watch, senior center Josh Bodden with 40 blocks on the season, junior guard Gary Johnson 122 assists and junior forward Marcus Avant.

Their rookie coach Jamie Dixon, who was recently named Coach of the Year by the Big East conference, leads the Panthers into the Bradley Center. The Panthers may not feature any one individual star, but they have several consistent performers who can beat you.

Soph PG Carl Krauser is the Panthers floor general; as he goes so does the team. Krauser averages 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Carl was a 2nd team all conference selection and was awarded the Most Improved Player Award by the Big East Conference.

Senior guard Jaron Brown is the "X" factor of the Panthers squad. Often Brown is referred to as the glue that holds Pittsburgh together. Brown averages 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He was a 2nd team all conference pick, and the conference's Sportsmanship Award winner. Brown stepped up his offense during the conference tournament.

Senior SG Julius Page, with 11.2 points per game, has been in an offensive slump lately. Page has maintained his stellar defensive play, often shutting down the opposition' best guards.

Freshman C Chris Taft is the Big East Rookie of the Year and most heralded recruit for Pittsburgh in a long time. Taft averages 11.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds.

Junior F Chevon Troutman averages 9.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Arguably Pittsburgh's best low post defender, he runs the floor as good as any big man in the country.

When Dixon looks to the bench, 6th man F Mark McCarroll averages 5.7 points off the bench. Senior C Toree Morris at 6'10", 280 brings some bulk and rebounding. Freshman PG Antonio Graves will spell Krauser at the point.

Team Statistics Averages
Offense - 70.2 pointsOffense - 61.5 points
Opponents - 69.2 pointsOpponents - 56.1 points
FG% - 46%FG% - 48%
Opp FG% – 40%Opp FG% – 30%
Free Throws – 71.6%Free Throws – 64.7%
Rebounds – 37.6Rebounds – 36.6
Opp Rebounds – 33.0Opp Rebounds – 31.4
Turnovers – 15.4Turnovers – 12.7

The game is scheduled for Friday evening at 9:55 PM EST. The winner will meet the winner of the Wisconsin/Richmond game.

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