Pitt escapes tough test from ETSU
DAYTON -- Three things we learned from a game that had the potential to be historic:
"Oh yeah, it'll happen," Pitt guard
Friday's game in Dayton provided a near perfect storm for an upset. As Pittsburgh failed to pull away in the first half, the crowd got behind the underdog Bucs, uniting three quarters of a stadium worth of Ohio State, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Louisville fans. By half, when it became clear that ETSU would keep it competitive, the stadium -- which ranks among the smaller host sites with just under 13,500 seats -- was split nearly 20-80 in favor of the Bucs.
"It definitely had an away game feel," said Pitt forward
Fields hopes the closeness of the game serves warning to future No. 1 seeds, though just about anyone playing in Dayton these days should be ready for a fight -- and the Panthers aren't done with the arena quite yet. The site has played host to a number of shocking upsets in the past. In 1995, 12th-seeded Miami (Ohio) upended No. 5 Cal. And in 2006 11th-seeded George Mason used the site to kick off its run to the Final Four with wins over No. 6 Michigan State and No. 3 North Carolina.
Whether that's enough to get Pitt by two days from now is another matter. Up next, the Panthers get Oklahoma State, a team that will certainly try to run Fields ragged with its up-tempo offense.
The Cowboys will go right at Blair, attacking him with backdoors and pick-and-rolls to the basket, as they did against Tennessee. With any luck, they'll lure him into foul trouble. But even if Blair keeps out of trouble (as he did against ETSU) and repeats his solid first-round effort (16 boards; 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting), he'll need some serious assistance from his guards, who weren't up to the task today. Fields and
"We know how good we are, but we didn't show it today," Fields said. "We weren't rattled by [ETSU] or anything. We just have to execute much better next game." Or else.