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Notes from off-day in Dayton

If you thought Pitt’s nail-biter with East Tennesse State was almost an upset of epic stature, it was. First, as we all know, No. 1 seeds are 100-0 against No. 16 seeds since 1985, but Pitt’s 72-62 decision was the tightest first-round victory for a No. 1 seed in 12 years. The last time a top seed had to fight so hard to survive the first round was No. 1 seed North Carolina’s 82-74 victory over No. 16 Fairfield in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. It served as a wake-up call. The Tar Heels won their next three games by an average of 15 points and reached the Final Four.

&#149 Pitt sophomore DeJuan Blair will be named one of the finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year Award on Sunday afternoon, sources said. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was named a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year earlier this week.

&#149 Guard Jermaine Dixon, who turned his right ankle in the victory over East Tennessee State, felt better at Saturday’s practice. “It’s good,” he said.

&#149 Levance Fields needs three assists to move past Pitt assistant Brandin Knight as the single-season assist leader at Pitt. Fields has 248. Knight had 251 assists as a junior in 2001-02.

&#149 Here are a couple of unusual stats from Pitt’s post-season. Levance Fields hasn’t attempted a free throw in either of the past two games, and Sam Young didn’t make one shot from inside the 3-point line against East Tennessee State. He went 0-for-4 inside the arc.

&#149 After fielding a bunch of questions about his role as the team barber – the answers being very funny and interesting – senior forward Tyrell Biggs said Pitt had some butterflies in the first round. He expects a much more poised effort Sunday against Oklahoma State. “I feel like maybe in the first round you get jitters and get kind of anxious,” he said. “The second round calms you down. You lived through the first round, you made it here. You stick to what you know and just play the game.”

&#149 Among the many Panthers who struggled in the first round was Gilbert Brown, who had three turnovers and a couple of missed layups. He said the team needs to pick up its pace in transition. “Our offense is stagnant the last couple of games,” he said. “Once we get out of that funk and get back to what we were doing, running, pushing the ball up off the rebound and attacking the basket and just knocking down easy, open shots like we used to do, we’ll be fine.”

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