Levance Fields celebrates with a teammate after hitting the game-winning shot.
Dec. 20, 2007
NEW YORK (AP) -Levance Fields had about as much on his mind as a player can.
His team was down two points with 16 seconds left in overtime. He had turned the ball over on Pittsburgh's last two possessions. He was playing in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, the arena the junior guard used to take the subway to from his home in Brooklyn. His best friend on the team, Mike Cook, had been helped from the court with what looked like a severe knee injury just minutes earlier.
Fields got the ball with about 10 seconds left. He went to his favorite spot, just behind the 3-point line off to the left side of the head of the key and let fly.
His 3-pointer went in with 4.7 seconds left and - after Duke missed two final shots - No. 11 Pittsburgh had a 65-64 victory over the sixth-ranked Blue Devils on Thursday night in a matchup of unbeatens in the Aeropostale Classic.
"I needed a little space and I got the space and it went in," Fields said. "When Mike went down it brought tears to my eyes. It's his last year and he can't go out like that. I knew I had committed the turnovers and I knew I had to make up for it. I talk about game-winners all the time. I had to hit it for my teammates, myself and the city of Pittsburgh."
Panthers coach Jamie Dixon began to choke up when he talked about Cook, who had started the last 48 games at small forward.
"This is the most bittersweet night in my coaching career," Dixon said. "I don't think it's good for Mike. We'll do what's best for him.
"I told them at the timeout with 16 seconds left to win this one for Mike and then his best friend hits the winning shot after we come back the way we did. I am so proud of my kids."
Cook had a brace on his left leg when he came out of the locker room and was on crutches after the game. A school spokesman said Cook was being taken to a hospital for evaluation and a decision on when he would return to Pittsburgh would be made then.
Cook hurt his left leg a minute into the overtime near the baseline in front of the Pitt bench after he turned the ball over. He remained on the court for several minutes then was helped to the locker room without the leg ever touching the ground.
After Fields' shot gave Pittsburgh (11-0) the lead, Duke's Jon Scheyer took a running 3 and was able to grab the rebound and get off a final shot but it was another miss for the Blue Devils (10-1).
"I tried to go and get the ball and when I did and turned I was surprised my man was right there and I rushed the shot," Scheyer said. "I went after it and got off a good shot and I thought it was good but I couldn't see it and then I heard the reaction from the fans."
The crowd of 19,544 was pro-Duke but the Pittsburgh fans who were there made their share of noise, especially as the Panthers turned things around in the second half.
"I talk about game-winners all the time. I had to hit it for my teammates, myself and the city of Pittsburgh."
Guard Levance Fields
Fields, who finished with 21 points, hit all three of Pittsburgh's 3-pointers in the game. The second one he made was part of a 12-0 run that gave the Panthers a 50-49 lead with 5:27 to play in regulation, their first since 2-0.
Duke had the final two shots of regulation, too.
Gerald Henderson of Duke tied the game at 58 on a jumper with 56 seconds left in regulation.
Cook missed a 3 with 23 seconds left and the Blue Devils worked for a last shot, Henderson's driving miss in the lane, but Kyle Singler got the rebound and his putback went off the rim.
Sam Young had 17 points for Pittsburgh, while freshman DeJuan Blair had 15 points and 20 rebounds and his energy on the boards was a big key for the Panthers in their comeback from a 13-point deficit four minutes into the second half.
"The guy has tools and he has hands," Dixon said of Blair. "He has energy. he plays hard. There were nine guards out there, really, and he is the biggest guy and his job was to rebound and he did."
Singler and Henderson both had 17 points for Duke, while DeMarcus Nelson added 14.
"He made a big shot. That is a big-time play," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Fields. "I thought they played tougher than we did. We just didn't have the energy that we have displayed most of the season. I think some of it is because Pitt is good."
The loss snapped Duke's 36-game winning streak in December. The Blue Devils' last loss in the 12th month was 84-83 to Stanford on Dec. 21, 2000.
Both teams were used to playing in Madison Square Garden. Pitt is 18-8 there since 2001-02 and Duke is 15-6 in the Garden under Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils had won their last seven in the building.
It looked like Duke's winning streaks in the month and New York City would remain intact as the Blue Devils took a 16-point lead in the first half and were still up 39-26 with 16:31 left in regulation.
But Pittsburgh picked up its rebounding and defense in the second half and overtime and cut back on the turnovers. After being even on the boards at 19 at halftime, the Panthers finished with a 53-39 rebound advantage and the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Blair was the big difference.
"They just wanted it more," Krzyzewski said in explaining the rebound difference. "In the first half we did a good job on the defensive boards. In the second half they just took over."
Duke went 4:48 without scoring in the second, part of a 6:31 span when the Blue Devils didn't have a field goal. Their spread offense wasn't getting the same shots it did in the first half and the Blue Devils were missing 3s, going 1-for-9 from behind the arc in the final 25 minutes.
"Finishes were difficult for us," Krzyzewski said. "You just need to convert at a higher percentage if you are going to beat a good team."
Pitt took advantage to get back in the game and Blair had five points in the 12-0 run that got the Panthers the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.
The Panthers finished with 22 turnovers after having 13 in the first half.