Allen, OSU shred Pitt’s defense
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tony Allen was this year’s Dwyane Wade.
Allen, Oklahoma State’s dynamic, 6-foot-4 swingman, tortured Pitt in the second half of a Sweet 16 game Thursday night, scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points in a 63-51 victory.
Similar to how Wade carried Marquette past Pitt in last year’s Sweet 16, Allen inflicted his damage on a variety of powerful and athletic drives. He added a clutch 3-pointer that gave OSU a 53-47 lead with four minutes left.
“My number was getting called, and more and more I just took it,” Allen said. “I took it to mean I had to do something to help my team.”
His performance brought back bad memories for Pitt.
“Last year, we held (Marquette) down, and then Wade heated up,” said forward Mark McCarroll. “This year, somebody else heated up.”
That somebody was Allen, a 213-pound senior who scored seven of OSU’s points during a 17-7 run after Pitt’s Carl Krauser tied the game 42-42 with 7:50 left.
Besides the 3-pointer, Allen beat forward Jaron Brown for a reverse layup and made a dazzling spin move between Brown and Chevon Troutman. Earlier in the half, Allen made a quick dribble between his legs — in traffic — and powered up for a layup.
“There aren’t many people quicker than Tony,” said OSU assistant coach Sean Sutton, who calls most of his team’s offensive sets. “He has an explosive first step. He gets into his opponent, gets an angle going to the basket, and he is just so strong.”
Krauser guarded Allen for much of the first half. Brown drew the duty for much of the second half, even though he was in foul trouble. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Brown was not his usual aggressive self because he picked up his third foul late in the first half.
“If affected Jaron for the rest of the game,” Dixon said. “That was pretty obvious to anyone who was watching.”
Allen was the only Cowboys player to reach double figures, but he hardly was the only one who hurt Pitt’s normally impenetrable defense. Forward Joey Graham scored eight of his nine points in the second half, guard Daniel Bobik hit two 3-pointers just after halftime, and point guard John Lucas III dished out six assists.
The Cowboys shot 64 percent in the second half and 48.9 percent overall, the fourth-best mark against Pitt this season. OSU also connected on 15 of 16 free-throw attempts (Pitt was 6 of 10).
OSU coach Eddie Sutton made it quite clear to his team at halftime that Pitt had been the aggressor in the first half, after which it led 28-26. Sutton said the key to his team’s big second half was controlling the boards.
The Cowboys had two more rebounds than Pitt in the second half.
“That allowed us to run,” the elder Sutton said. “We’re a lot better basketball team when we can get the ball and run with it.”
Neither team had a fastbreak basket in the first half. OSU finished with 11 fastbreak points to Pitt’s four and 13 assists to Pitt’s eight. Twelve of OSU’s assists came in the second half.
“In the first half, Pitt forced its will,” Sean Sutton said. ‘In the second half, especially the last 10 minutes, our quickness finally started to take over the game. We finally started to get some easy shots against a team that doesn’t give up that many.”
Dixon rejected Eddie Sutton’s contention that Pitt was fatigued in the second half, and he said many of OSU’s easy baskets occurred when his team, out of desperation, had to extend its defense late in the game.
But Dixon agreed with everybody else who watched the game on one point: OSU is hard to guard.
“It’s obvious they’re a great team,” he said.
And it’s equally obvious that Allen is a great player.