ACCMBB in NCAA First Round: Pitt Falls Short Against Wisconsin
ST. LOUIS (AP & PittsburghPanthers.com) - Ethan Happ had 15 points and nine rebounds, none bigger than one he pulled down in the closing seconds, and seventh-seeded Wisconsin edged No. 10 seed Pittsburgh 47-43 in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.
It was still enough to reach the next round against No. 2 seed Xavier or No. 15 seed Weber State.
Pittsburgh (21-12) had a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds when Hayes missed a 3 and James Robinson took the rebound the other way. But his wild layup surrounded by defenders bounced off the rim, Happ corralled the loose ball and the Badgers put the game away with three free throws.
Jamel Artis led the Panthers with 13 points. Leading scorer Michael Young was held to a season-low six.
It was the fewest points scored by the winning team in an NCAA Tournament game since Butler beat Mississippi State 47-46 in 2003, according to STATS. And it was the fewest combined points since Southwest Missouri State beat - surprise! - the Badgers 43-32 in the 1999 tournament.
This bunch of Badgers looks a lot more like that team than last year's Final Four group, the one led by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker that seemed to score at will. They may struggle on offense for long stretches, or even entire games, but they can always lean on their defense when things are going poorly.
That was the case most of the way against Pittsburgh.
Wisconsin missed 13 of its first 15 shots, despite everything newly minted coach Greg Gard drew up, and the Badgers didn't hit double-digits scoring until there was just over 4 minutes left. It took a 3-pointer by Brown in the final minute just to get within 22-16 at the break.
Happ finally got Wisconsin going early in the second half, scoring seven quick points to help his team to a 25-24 lead. Then, after the Panthers responded with an 8-2 run, Hayes scored a couple of quick baskets and Brown hit his second 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 38-36 advantage with 5:30 left.
That set up a back-and-forth struggle to the finish.
Robinson gave Pittsburgh the lead back from the foul line, and Brown knocked down another 3 to retake it for Wisconsin. Happ scored a couple minutes later while getting fouled to make it a two-possession game, but Artis answered with his third 3-pointer to make it 44-43 with 40.6 seconds left.
Panthers coach Jamie Dixon called timeout and instructed his guys to play defense, and they executed perfectly on that end. But Robinson couldn't come through in front of his own bench.
Pittsburgh: Robinson finished with seven points on 3-for-15 shooting. ... The Panthers only had six assists. ... The ACC's second-best rebounding team was beaten 37-36 on the boards.
Wisconsin: Koenig had two points on 1-for-8 shooting, missing both of his 3s. ... The Badgers are trying to reach their third straight Final Four. ... Wisconsin has won nine of its last 10 NCAA openers.