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Pitt Outlasts Wisconsin in Tense Battle

March 22, 2004|Skip Myslenski | Chicago Tribune

MILWAUKEE — Pittsburgh and Wisconsin played a withering affair Sunday so taut that it sucked the air out of the Bradley Center and pulled all observers to the edge of their seats.

And with just over two minutes remaining in the second-round NCAA tournament game, the score was tied as Pitt guard Carl Krauser drove toward the left block. Three Wisconsin players -- Devin Harris, Clayton Hanson and Mike Wilkinson -- rushed to confront him, but still he got up a three-foot floater that bounded in.

Pitt led the rest of the way, and with a 59-55 victory earned a Thursday date with Oklahoma State in the East Rutherford Regional of the NCAA tournament. But plenty of drama remained in this riveting bit of theater which mesmerized from the start.

No more than five points separated the teams in the first half, which ended tied 26-26, and then after the Panthers (31-4) jumped to a seven-point lead early in the second, the Badgers (25-7) reeled them in to tie it 35-35 with 14:11 left. From there, no more than four points separated them.

Pittsburgh outrebound Wisconsin, 40-31, and got 10 of their 11 second-half field goals on dunks, layups or offensive rebounds.

Said Wisconsin center Dave Mader of Pittsburgh: "They banged us good. They pushed and shoved us down low and we couldn't counter that."

Said Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon: "That was intensely hard. But I don't know a tougher group than my guys."

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