Inside The Milwaukee Regional

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 21, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — After seeing some of the NCAA Tournament higher seeds bite the dust on the first day Thursday, many wondered if there were some Cinderellas coming to the ball on the second day of the first round.

Friday afternoon in Milwaukee, sixth-seeded Xavier didn’t let the upset bug happen to them when they beat 11th-seeded Minnesota 65-54.

The Musketeers set the tone of the first game at the Bradley Center. And when the lights came on, Xavier guard Jordan Crawford was in the spotlight. His game-high 28 points in 35 minutes was enough to move on to the second round Sunday.

Crawford, who was 11-of-21 from the field, including five three-pointers, was known for more than his highly-publicized video of him dunking on LeBron James in a pickup game at James’ summer camp.

“I just kept attacking,” Crawford said.

“My mindset before the game was to attack from start to finish. Coach (Chris Mack) made a point saying, ‘Don’t go into the game just tip-toeing. Go in there to be aggressive,’ so that’s what I was trying to be.”

In the first half, Crawford was 4-of-11 with two three-pointers. He shot 70 percent in the second half (7-of-10) and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Minnesota kept the game within reach in the first half.

Xavier’s lead in the half reached seven points at 15-8. A free-throw by forward Paul Carter reduced the Musketeer advantage to 24-23 with 1 minute 40 seconds left in the half.

Crawford, who had 11 points in the first half, scored nine more points in the second half before Minnesota’s Lawrence Westbrook picked up his third foul at the 12:26 mark.

Teammate Devoe Joseph guarded Crawford when Westbrook went out of the game. “I didn’t really care who was going to check me,” Crawford said. “I just wanted to be aggressive, and I saw a couple of lanes to the basket.”

“Once I got a couple of easy layups, my three-point shots started falling.”

Third-seeded Pittsburgh overcame a slow start against 14th-seeded Oakland, winning 89-66. The Grizzlies led 18-13 with 9:19 remaining in the half. The Panthers scored 12 unanswered points in 4:20 to turn a five-point deficit into a seven point lead at 25-18.

Pitt outscored Oakland 14-8 to take a 39-26 advantage at the break.”I think our main concern was we started off the game plan a little sloppy,” Pitt’s Gilbert Brown said. “There was a lot of turnovers and we weren’t moving the ball.”

Pitt’s biggest lead in the second half was 21 points. The Panthers made their free-throws down the stretch to maintain their double digit margin. “We couldn’t keep them off the foul line,” Oakland forward Drew Valentine said.

“They got a lot of free-throws and second chance points.”

“You can’t beat a team when you allow that.” Brad Wanamaker’s 18 points led six Pitt players in double figures. Oakland’s Keith Benson and Johnathon Jones tied for a game-high 20 points.

The Panthers meet the Musketeers in the second round, approximately 30 minutes after the Georgia Tech-Ohio State game for a spot in the Sweet 16.

It took the No. 10 Yellow Jackets nearly the entire game to finally pull away from No. 7 Oklahoma State in a 64-59 victory in the third game of the day. Neither team had a lead in the game bigger than seven points.

But when it was crunch time, the Yellow Jackets did enough to advance in the second round against Ohio State. Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford explained why his team struggled to score.

“(Tech) played very good defense,” he said. “They were much more physical. They were very, very aggressive. We were playing on our heels way too much.”

The Buckeyes got a fast start against UC-Santa Barbara in the last game as they led 30-17 at intermission.

From there, the Big Ten Champions coasted to a 68-51 win.

They will play Tech at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday.