Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Pittsburgh nearly made history – the wrong way

East Tennessee State's Greg Hamlin (right) knocks the ball away from Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown in the second half of the Friday's NCAA tournament game in Dayton, Ohio.

East Tennessee State's Greg Hamlin (right) knocks the ball away from Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown in the second half of the Friday's NCAA tournament game in Dayton, Ohio.

DAYTON, Ohio – The crowd, sensing the grandest of upsets, roared.

The Pittsburgh coach paced.

History itself waited.

Could it happen, a No. 16 seed beating a No. 1 for the first time since James Naismith nailed up his peach baskets?

Barely four minutes were left. East Tennessee State trailed Pittsburgh 59-57 and had the basketball. “I would have taken that (situation) prior to the game,” coach Murry Bartow mentioned later.

Would it happen?

Kevin Tiggs drove into traffic in the lane, off-balance, perhaps too eager to score the basket that would tie the score and bring the house down and send the Panthers into panic – if they weren’t already.

Turnover. Pittsburgh could exhale, and the Buccaneers would never be that close again.

It ended 72-62. But for Pittsburgh, with national title designs blowing in the wind, it was a good deal scarier than that.

“We had them,” Tiggs said.

Well, all except for the 30.7 percent shooting, and the 16-for-58 brick-a-thon that the top three scorers put up, and the 12-for-24 from the free throw line.

Numbers like that against a No. 1 seed usually mean arena officials will need several whisk brooms to sweep up your pieces. But there was a low shooting bar to stay in the game Friday. East Tennessee State hit 24 percent the first half – you could almost do that in a dark room – and trailed only 26-23.

“We survived,” said Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair. “I give credit to them for fighting.”

Without Blair, the Panthers are in the history books with a shocked look on their faces. His 27 points and 16 rebounds saved the day.

Friday’s message?

The Panthers might have been ranked No. 1 this season – twice – and might have been the top seed and might have been one of the premier teams of the mighty Big East . . . they still got outscrapped. Which is curious for a team that sees itself as Final Four timber.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon tried to look at the bright side. Understandable, since there will soon be another game to play, so who has time to worry now?

“I watched that team (on film) and there is no way this team is a 16 seed,” he said of the Buccaneers. “This was a very good win against a very good team.”

But facts are facts. The Panthers were sloppy enough to make 13 turnovers in the first half, and for the game were absolutely creamed in second chance points 25-7. Offensive rebounds are born of hustle, and East Tennessee State had plenty enough to make trouble.

“We came here to win,” Bartow said. “We didn’t come here to play a close game.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service