Big Lead Sports Bar



After day one of the NCAA Tournament, the Big East was quickly becoming the joke of the college hoops world. Luckily, the Pitt Panthers would bring the conference a bit of redemption, easily handling the Oakland Golden Grizzlies by a final count of 89-66 in Milwaukee.

Gilbert Brown decided today was going to be a "good day" in his season of alternating "good day/bad day" performances, leading the way with 17 points for the Panthers. Jermaine Dixon also hit for 17 to share the team's top spot, and was one of six Pitt players to score in double figures. There haven't been many occasions where we could say that this season.

The Panthers were in a dogfight early on, trailing 18-14 as late as 13 minutes into the first half. But Pitt went on an 11-1 run over the next three minutes, and went into the locker room up 39-26 at the half. The Panthers would tack on a 50 spot in the second half, walking away with a relatively easy 23-point victory.

Other than their early struggles, it was a solid effort from Jamie Dixon's squad in their 2010 tournament opener, although Ashton Gibbs had a tough day, shooting 1-of-7 from the floor and finishing with just seven points. In the last two Panther games, Gibbs has scored only 11 points - a number that simply has to improve if the team wants to go deeper into March. Gibbs put up only four points on four shots in the team's Big East Tournament loss to Notre Dame last week.

Pitt played solid defense, holding the Grizzlies to 32% from the floor and 18% from three-point land. They did allow Keith Benson to get his, as the big man finished with 28 points, but that was nearly negated by the 23-point difference in the final score.

The Panthers move on to round two, where they will face a familiar foe, the 25-8 Xavier Musketeers. The Musketeeers were 65-54 winners over Tubby Smith and Minnesota on Friday behind 28 points from the well-traveled Jordan Crawford, the team's top gun. This is the fourth year in a row that Xavier has advanced to the second round and the first time doing so under new coach Chris Mack.

The Musketeers and Panthers will meet on Sunday in Milwaukee, with the time to be determined. Last year, Pitt eliminated Xavier 60-55 in the Sweet 16 round of the tournament, behind the heroics of Levance Fields. You can be sure that revenge in on the minds of many a Musketeer in the time between now and Sunday.

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