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Xavier turns up defense, pulls away late from Wisconsin in second round of NCAA Tournament

BOISE, Idaho — Xavier coach Sean Miller didn't call a timeout in the opening minutes of the second half so he could draw up a specific play.

It was, more to the point, a chance to remind his players about what got them to the second round of the NCAA Tournament: the way they play.

"Sometimes timeouts are made (to be) almost like a coach changes completely what he's doing," Miller said, "and 90 percent of the time, it's just everyone taking a deep breath, going back out on the court and really trying to play the style of basketball that we practice."

For the Musketeers, that's hard-nosed, man-to-man defense.

They then held Wisconsin scoreless for the next 7:28, fueling a 10-0 run that erased a 33-26 deficit and allowed them to regain control and pull away 60-49 at the Taco Bell Arena.

The No. 4-seeded Musketeers (27-7) advanced to Boston, where they face top-seeded Pittsburgh — Miller's alma mater — in the East Region semifinals Thursday. It's their third trip to the Sweet 16 in the past six years.

But that seemed to be slipping away against the No. 12-seeded Badgers (20-13), who were fresh off an upset of No. 5 Florida State in overtime Friday night.

The Badgers increased their 27-25 halftime lead to seven on a spinning, driving layup by junior guard Trevon Hughes, the FSU killer, with 17:21 left. Miller immediately called timeout.

"We just needed to calm down and do what we do," senior guard B.J. Raymond said.

"We didn't lose faith in what got us here," Miller added.

With the Badgers shooting a season-low 28.6 percent from the field, Xavier was able to grind out the win, sealing it by hitting 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:45.

PITT 84, OKLA. ST. 76: As his teammates buzzed around him during warmups, Sam Young lost himself in the funky sounds pumping through his headphones.

Young, the Panthers' poet in motion whose words are his second love after basketball, let the sweet, sweet music carry him far away.

And deeper into the tournament.

Young scored 32, one shy of his career high, and center DeJuan Blair added a double double as top-seeded Pittsburgh advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth time in eight years by beating the Cowboys in Dayton, Ohio. Pitt (30-4) plays Xavier in the semifinals in Boston on Thursday.

"It's a tough bracket we're in," said Blair, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds, some of them with three defenders hanging on him. "We're just fighting through it."

Oklahoma State threw every punch it had.

Obi Muonelo scored 19 for the eighth-seeded Cowboys (23-12), who gave the Panthers all they could handle before losing their touch in the final minutes. Oklahoma State made 10 3-pointers in a frenetic first half but sank just 2 of 12 3s after halftime as Pitt's defense tightened and took away the open looks that were so available earlier.

"We were right there," said OSU guard Byron Eaton, who scored 15 and survived a collision with Blair. "We were never out of it. Pittsburgh's a good team. You can't take nothing from them guys. We had a great game plan, but we just couldn't accomplish what we wanted to do."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Xavier turns up defense, pulls away late from Wisconsin in second round of NCAA Tournament 03/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:14pm]
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