(7) Indiana 52

(21-13, 8-8 Big Ten)

(2) Pittsburgh 74

(28-4, 13-3 Big East)

    12:10 PM ET, March 23, 2003

    TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

    1 2 T
    #7IND 21 3152
    #2PITT 31 4374

    Panthers overwhelm Hoosiers for Sweet 16 berth

    BOSTON (AP) -- Pittsburgh has a Steel Curtain defense again, thanks to coach Ben Howland.

    His Panthers completely wore down Indiana in a 74-52 victory Sunday to reach the round of 16 for the second consecutive year.

    Pitt didn't have much basketball tradition before Howland arrived, so he had to find his inspiration elsewhere in the city's sporting lore.

    Brandin Knight drove past the Hoosiers for 17 points.

    "Pittsburgh Steelers basketball," Howland called it after becoming the school's most successful NCAA Tournament coach with four wins.

    "We're not tall. We're burly. We want kids that are tough. That's what wins."

    Jaron Brown scored 20 points, and Brandin Knight added 17 points and seven assists for second-seeded Pittsburgh, which will play No. 3 seed Marquette in the Midwest Regional semifinals Thursday in Minneapolis.

    Knight also had five steals, and Chevon Troutman grabbed nine rebounds to go with his 10 points as the Panthers (28-4) did most of their damage on defense.

    Drawing on the Steel Curtain defense that brought the city four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, Howland used a bulky frontcourt rotation of Ontario Lett, Donatas Zavackas and Troutman.

    Listed at an average of 6-foot-7 and 246 pounds -- but probably heavier -- they pushed around Indiana's taller but spindly George Leach (6-foot-11, 240) and Jeff Newton (6-9, 225).

    Indiana (21-13) trailed by one before going scoreless for the last 6:33 of the first half, committing five turnovers during that span while missing five shots -- mostly long, contested 3-point attempts. At the same time, Brown had a blocked shot and a 3-pointer, and Knight added two steals and a pair of 3s to give Pitt a 31-21 halftime lead.

    Dick Vitale: How about the physical play in the frontcourt for Pittsburgh! Everybody talks about the Panthers' great guard duo of Brandin Knight and Julius Page, but let me tell you, this team has so many other weapons. More

    Indiana, a seventh seed, had a similar stumble at a similar time of its opening-round game against Alabama before overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit to beat the Crimson Tide 67-62.

    This time, the deficit was more than a temporary setback for the Hoosiers (21-13), who lost in the championship game to Maryland last year.

    "It's hard to think back right now," senior Tom Coverdale said when asked to assess his career. "I'm just thinking about what we could have done."

    Bracey Wright, who scored all of his 17 points in the second half against Alabama, had nine of his 11 in the second against Pitt -- not enough. Coverdale, who led Indiana with 23 in the first round, had just six points on seven shots against Julius Page's defense.

    "He's probably the best defender I've faced in my whole career," Coverdale said. "I knew he was a good defender, but I didn't realize he was that quick and athletic. He sees what's going to happen before it happens."

    Leach scored 15, and Wright added eight rebounds for the Hoosiers, but they also turned the ball over 16 times for 18 Pitt points and got outrebounded 28-17.

    It was the 11th consecutive victory for Pitt and the sixth time in seven games that the Big East champions held an opponent under 60 points. The only exception was an 87-61 first-round victory over Wagner.

    "Not one guy over there cares who scores. That's the point we've got to get back to as a team," said Indiana coach Mike Davis, who blistered his players for being selfish and listening to "outside influences ... telling them how good they are."

    Indiana trailed just 22-21 when Brown and Knight each hit a 3-pointer to make it a seven-point game. Brown blocked Wright's shot with 3:08 left in the half, then Knight stole the ball from Wright and hit another 3 to make it 31-21 heading into the break.

    Indiana cut it to four in the second when Wright took a long pass for a layup and a foul; he missed the free throw, but got the rebound and scored in the lane to make it 36-32 with 15:17 left.

    Indiana was within seven before Brown dunked to make it 52-43 with 6:49 left, then Page stole the ball at the other end. He hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 12-point lead, and it was never within single digits again.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press



    » Mar 23, 2003 @PITT 74, IND 52Recap