Jamie Dixon at Saturday's press conference (AP)
March 20, 2010
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Xavier coach Chris Mack faces a challenge going into Sunday's second-round NCAA tournament game against Pittsburgh: The Panthers had six players score in double figures in their first-round win over Oakland - and leading scorer Ashton Gibbs wasn't even one of them.
Pittsburgh doesn't have a true star player. But take away one scorer, and the Panthers can simply turn to four or five more.
"I like Pittsburgh, so I've been watching them throughout the year," Xavier guard Terrell Holloway said. "I know they're all great players. Any given night any one of them could go out there and score 20 points a game."
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon won't have to look very hard to identify Xavier's No. 1 scoring threat, but that doesn't make the task any easier. The Panthers must find a way to stop Jordan Crawford.
Dixon said it will take a team effort to contain Crawford, who bailed Xavier out from a poor first-half shooting performance with 28 points in a victory over Minnesota on Friday.
"One thing you know, he gets a lot of shots," Dixon said. "So he's going to score some points."
Panthers forward Gilbert Brown said Crawford is a tough player who can score in a variety of ways, but he isn't unstoppable.
"I think with the type of defense that we play, we'll be able to manage him," Brown said. "So I'm not really worried about like what they're going to present offensively to us. I really have a lot of faith in our defensive abilities."
The winner of Sunday's game will advance to face the winner of Kansas State-BYU.
It's a rematch of Pittsburgh's victory over Xavier in last year's tournament. But it's unlikely either team will get a lot out of film study from that game.
Pittsburgh lost four starters from last year's team, including DeJuan Blair and Sam Young, who went to the NBA. Xavier has a few new faces, too - and a new head coach, Mack, who took over when Sean Miller left for Arizona.
"We're two completely different teams," Xavier's Jamel McLean said. "It's not a rivalry game between us. But we do know in the back of our minds that this was the team that knocked us out last year. We're not going to try and make it bigger than it is."
The Musketeers appear to be a more offense-oriented team this year, but Mack says that's more a function of having different players.
"When you have faster players, it lends itself to being a faster team," Mack said. "We replaced really good players, B.J. Raymond (and) C.J. Anderson, with guys like Mark Lyons and Jordan Crawford. If you had those guys run a foot race, it wouldn't even be close."
Holloway said the Musketeers remain committed to defense.
"It's just that we scored so many points sometimes that people forget how great we defend," Holloway said.
Despite the changes for both teams since last season, Dixon said he still will watch film of last year's tournament game.
"I guess you can read into that," Dixon said. "We'll get something out of it - or hope to, anyway."
When he does, he'll see Blair, Young and Levance Fields, who made big plays to help beat Xavier in the tournament last year. Those players are gone, but the Panthers still have plenty of scoring options.
"I feel it's a tough challenge for them," Pitt's Brad Wanamaker said. "It shows that we've got other guys capable of scoring other than Ashton. We had six guys in double figures. I mean, that tells you how dangerous our team is."