GREENSBORO, NC (93.7 The Fan) – There were times it was a struggle for either team to score, but the Panthers used a hot start and early 20-point to a 59-41 win over Iowa State in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament.
Whether you credit the defenses, blame the offenses or something in the middle, the Panthers found a way.
Panthers had to start again without center Federiko Federiko, unable to start due to a MCL strain suffered in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, although he was able to play spot minutes, totaling 11. Guillermo Diaz Graham started again and was a big reason for the quick start.
The freshman, who had never even watched the NCAA Tournament until last year, had the first five points of the game, finished the first half with seven points, five rebounds and three blocks. The Panthers built a 22-2 lead after a pair of Diaz Graham free throws before a run by Iowa State. Even missing 10 of its last 11 field goals to end the half, the Panthers led by seven at the break.
The shooting woes continued into the second half with the teams combining to miss 22 of its first 25 shots, but two of those makes were by Nelly Cummings. The Midland native who grew up watching Pitt in the NCAA Tournament and wanted to bring the soul back to the program had a pair of three-pointers (one a runner and fouled and the other behind the arc) to give the Panthers a double-digit lead again.
The Diaz Graham brothers continued to provide solid minutes and the Panthers continued to get balanced scoring. The dagger coming with 4:47 to play a Nike Sibande made a three in the corner and was fouled to push the lead up to 20.
Nelly Cummings-13 points
Jamarius Burton-11 points
Greg Elliott-10 points
Guillermo Diaz Graham-9 points
Panthers held Iowa State to 23 percent shooting, 9.5 percent from three.
Panthers will face former star guard Sean Miller as he coached Xavier to a massive comeback in the first game against Kennesaw State.