Friday , Mar , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

First-round matchup pits Panthers against Golden Flashes

=== First-round matchup pits Panthers against Golden Flashes ===

(Sports Network) – The fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers make their fifth
straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament tonight, when they tussle with
the 12th-seeded Kent State Golden Flashes in the first round of the Oakland
Regional from the Palace of Auburn Hills. The winner of tonight’s bout will
go on to face either fourth-seeded Kansas or 13th-seeded Bradley in the second
round on Sunday.

The Panthers earned their school-record fifth consecutive invitation to the
NCAA Tournament by posting their fifth straight 20+ win season at 24-7.
Overall, this is Pitt’s 18th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where it has
gone 14-18. The Panthers have advanced to the Sweet 16 in three of the last
four tournaments and are 6-4 in their last 10 games in this event.

As for Kent State, it won both the Mid-American Conference regular season
crown and the tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the Big Dance.
The Flashes, who stand at 25-8 overall, are making their fourth
appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since 2002. The team is 4-3
all-time in this event, including an appearance in the Elite Eight in 2002.
The Flashes defeated Pitt, 78-73, in overtime in the 2002 regional
semifinals, and also own a slight 8-7 edge in the all-time series between the
two schools.

The Flashes aren’t the most explosive team around, but they are certainly one
of the most effective in averaging a solid 72.5 ppg on 44.9 percent shooting
from the field. The team has also done a good job in creating turnovers, as it
is forcing 16.5 miscues per game this year. Jay Youngblood currently leads the
team in scoring at 14.7 ppg and ranks second in steals with 43. DeAndre Haynes
is next in line with 13.2 ppg and is also turning in team-highs of 4.0 apg and
54 steals. He is also the team’s top three-point shooter, hitting on 40.4
percent of his attempts from long range. Kevin Warzynski rounds out the
double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg to go along with his team-best 5.1 rpg.

The Panthers have made their living at the defensive end of the court, where
they are holding their opponents to just 62.8 ppg and only 40.2 percent
shooting from the field. Pitt has also done a tremendous job on the boards,
grabbing 8.2 rpg more than its foes. Offensively, the team is averaging 72.5
ppg behind the inside-out duo of Carl Krauser and Aaron Gray. Krauser has been
responsible for running the point and is one of the most versatile players in
the nation, averaging team-highs of 15.0 ppg and 4.7 apg. He is also tops on
the club with 52 steals and is even pulling down 4.3 rpg. As for Gray, he has
been a force in the low post and is one of just a handful of players averaging
a double-double with 13.8 ppg and a team-high 10.6 rpg.