(3) Pittsburgh (31-4) vs. (2) Oklahoma St. (29-3)
Game Info: 7:27 pm EST Thu Mar 25, 2004
East Rutherford Region Regional Semifinals - Continental Airlines Arena (East Rutherford, NJ)
Pittsburgh has developed quite a reputation for defense and physical play. It's on the offensive end where the Panthers are lacking.
Third-seeded Pitt will try to rediscover its offense when it takes on No. 2 Oklahoma State in the round of 16.
Pitt scored only 58 points in a loss to Connecticut in the Big East title game, 53 points in a win against Central Florida in the first game of the NCAA tournament, and 59 points to squeak past Wisconsin in the second round.
Over its last six games, Pitt has scored more than 62 points only once.
Julius Page, Pitt's shooting guard, said the Panthers have allowed themselves to be taken out of their game, a mistake the team must avoid to get past Oklahoma State.
Page has scored in double figures only three times in his last nine games, though two of those games were in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
With their offense sputtering, the Panthers have leaned on point guard Carl Krauser not only to run the offense, but to supply most of it. Krauser, averaging 17 points, said the Panthers are due to break out.
``It's coming,'' he said. ``It's fate. It's destiny.''
While they search frantically for offense, the Panthers have continued to win with defense. They have held their first two opponents to an average of 49.5 points and 33 percent shooting from the floor. Pittsburgh held Wisconsin to 55 points and a season-low 36 percent shooting.
Coach Jamie Dixon said the Panthers need forward Chris Taft to play well against Oklahoma State's Ivan McFarlin and Joey Graham. In two tournament games, McFarlin totaled 33 points and 20 rebounds.
``I think (Taft has) been an impact all year long and I think that they have very good inside guys that might play bigger than they're listed,'' Dixon said.
Oklahoma State is also led by third-team All-American John Lucas, who had 13 points and five assists in a 70-53 win over Memphis in the second round Sunday.
The Cowboys, however, continue to lack consistency.
Graham had 20 of his 21 points in the first half, single-handedly outscoring Memphis' entire team during that span as Oklahoma State built a 41-19 halftime lead.
The Cowboys led 54-27 with 14 minutes left before Memphis responded with a 10-0 run. That started a 23-9 surge, capped by Rodney Carney's free throw with 3:38 left, that got Memphis within 63-50.
``I told the team after the ballgame that we have to play for 40 minutes,'' Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. ``You can't play that way against Pittsburgh or any other team left in the tournament.''
The winner will face Saint Joseph's or Wake Forest on Saturday.
Pittsburgh is 3-2 against Oklahoma State. The teams last met on Nov. 17, 1991, when the Cowboys beat Pitt in the preseason NIT.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Pittsburgh - F Jaron Brown (11.7 ppg and 5.5 rpg), F Chevon Troutman (9.9 ppg and 6.2 apg), C Taft (11 ppg and 7.6 rpg), G Krauser (15.4 ppg, 4.8 apg and 4.6 rpg), G Page (11.2 ppg and 3 rpg). Oklahoma State - F Graham (12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg), F McFarlin (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G Lucas (15.3 ppg, 4.6 apg), G Daniel Bobik (7.5 ppg, 2.8 apg), G Tony Allen (16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Pittsburgh - At-large berth; beat No. 14 Central Florida 53-44, first round; beat No. 10 Wisconsin 59-55, second round. Oklahoma State - Automatic bid, Big 12; beat No. 15 Eastern Washington 75-56, first round; beat No. 7 Memphis 70-53, second round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Pittsburgh - 14-16, 15 years. Oklahoma State - 33-22, 21 years.