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Fielding a prayer

03.26.09 at 9:32 pm ET
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Levance Fields, with the shot clock winding down, just drilled a high-arcing three-point shot with 47.1 seconds remaining to give Pittsburgh the lead, 55-54. Fields then stole a pass and went the length of the court for an easy layup.

Pittsburgh leads 57-54, with 23.9 remaining.

Read More: March Madness, Pittsburgh, Xavier,

Big Break

03.26.09 at 9:16 pm ET
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A big break just went Xavier’s way and in a close game, it may be the difference.

B.J. Raymond took a long jumper from the right wing with four seconds remaining on the shot clock. The shot was off the mark but Derrick Brown collected the ball and put it in. The shot clock was at zero but the basket was ruled good.

The video board was showing the CBS replay with a telestrator circling the shot clock at zero but they faded to black. The basket with just under seven minutes put Xavier up, 47-46.

Jermaine Dixon moments ago missed a layup when it appeared he was going to style on a dunk, but Levance Fields was Johnny on the Spot and put back the miss for an easy two Panther points.

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Finally X marks the spot

03.26.09 at 8:58 pm ET
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Derrick Brown’s turnaround in the lane at 13:40 was not only Xavier’s first field goal of the second half, it marked their first points of the second stanza.

It also gave Xavier the lead again after Pittsburgh scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 38-37 advantage when Sam Young hit one of two free throws.

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Pitt on a run

03.26.09 at 8:49 pm ET
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Pittsburgh got the boost they needed to start the second half.

They scored the first six points out of the chute and when Pittsburgh, the best offensive rebounding team in the country, grabbed a loose ball after a miss and converted a baseline jumper, an upset Sean Miller called a time out at 16:30, 30 seconds in advance of a TV timeout.

Miller, the Muskies coach, was seen dressing down Derrick Brown for a blown assignment.

When Sam Young converted a fastbreak steal, the Panthers had drawn even with 15:15 remaining. Xavier had yet to score in the second half.

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Xavier 37, Pittsburgh 29

03.26.09 at 8:35 pm ET
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The Pittsburgh Panthers just walked off a dejected group, and for good reason.

The Xavier Musketeers are playing the perfect game. In taking an eight-point lead, Xavier has taken it to Pittsburgh’s biggest and best players.

Sam Young is 5-for-8 from the field and leads Pittsburgh with 11 points but the rest of the No. 1 seed is a collective 6-for-23 and DeJuan Blair is just 1-for-6 and has just two points and four rebounds.

Xavier has outrebounded their last 24 opponents and they’re on their way to No. 25, as they lead 23-16 on the glass.

Xavier leads by eight despite shooting just 14-for-35 . Derrick Brown has brought his ‘A’ game, with a thunderous dunk midway through the half. Brown has been able to pick his spots and drive the lane. C.J. Anderson has shown his athleticism with a couple of spinning layups.

In short, if the Muskies play like that for another 20 minutes, they’ll be back to the Elite 8 for a second straight year.

Read More: March Madness, Pittsburgh, Xavier,

Settling in

03.26.09 at 8:13 pm ET
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Both Xavier and Pittsburgh have settled into a rhythm.

Granted neither team is burning the nets with the top-seeded Panthers making just 10 of 26 from the field while Xavier is just 10-for-29. Xavier has made 7-of-13 since starting 3-for-16.

The crowd is late-arriving but that’s to be expected considering the second game isn’t expected to tap-off until about 10 p.m. nearly all the seats filled in both the lower and upper bowls.

Villanova and Duke are expected to have very large numbers in the TD Banknorth Garden for the second East Regional semifinal.

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Xavier not backing down

03.26.09 at 8:01 pm ET
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The Pittsburgh Panthers had the reputation as the toughest of the tough this year. The most physical team in the Big East is accustomed to manhandling teams, beginning with DeJuan Blair in the post.

But the Xavier Musketeers are not intimidated in the least in this Sweet 16 matchup. They have Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson bodying Blair every time he gets the ball. Every Pittsburgh shot is being contested.

Meanwhile, the Muskies are doing a good job of perimeter passing, opening lanes for and Brown and Anderson each have thunderous dunks.

Read More: March Madness, Pittsburgh, Xavier,
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