Pitt pounces on Memphis at Jimmy V Classic

Graham paces No. 5 Okla.St. past No. 4 'Cuse

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V-Mail: Why no respect for Illinois?

Vitale: All-Support team

Vitale: All-Rip Van Winkle team

Vitale: When will MAC get respect?

Vitale: Mid-majors challenge big boys

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Vitale: Preseason All-Rolls-Royce Team (updated)

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Vitale: Eustachy & Co. get second chance

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Cowboys make early case for national title


We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. It was a special evening. I know that Jim Valvano was looking down from heaven, so proud of what the event accomplished, raising dollars to fight the dreaded disease of cancer.

Four outstanding coaches brought their teams to the mecca of college basketball, and in the end, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State came out on top.

It isn't often that a ranked team can put five seniors on the court in crunch time, baby!
I was so impressed with Pittsburgh's toughness in a 70-51 win over Memphis. The Panthers have a veteran nucleus in Carl Krauser, Chevon Troutman and Chris Taft, and they set the tone early when Pittsburgh raced out to a 29-10 lead and never looked back.

Troutman and Taft are tough to stop inside. Coach Jamie Dixon's team got solid early play from Antonio Graves, who also did an outstanding defensive job when covering Rodney Carney.

This was supposed to be Pittsburgh's first tough test. They get an A, baby!

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State defeated Syracuse 74-60. The Cowboys are special because of their experience. It isn't often that a ranked team can put five seniors on the court in crunch time, baby! They kept their composure and knew how to finish the job.

The Cowboys beat the Orange despite a rough shooting night from All-America hopeful John Lucas, who hit just 2-of-11 from the field. But the bottom line is, with the score tied at 45, Lucas hit the key trifecta and Oklahoma State never trailed after that.

Joey Graham didn't have his best performance either, yet the Cowboys found a way to get to the winner's circle. That's a true sign of a solid team, to prevail when your stars don't have great nights. Ivan McFarlin, who got into foul trouble in the first half, came through big in the second half. JamesOn Curry scored seven early points when his team needed a spark.

Coach Eddie Sutton's Cowboys can play patiently or run up and down the court. They were able to get several transition baskets in the second half after struggling with the Syracuse zone in the first half.

I was also impressed seeing how well Oklahoma State defends. This tenacious club is capable of challenging for a national championship. Remember, the Cowboys just missed getting to the national-title game last season, falling to Georgia Tech 67-65 in the Final Four. Wow, the Big 12 should be fun with Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma State up top!

The biggest winner of all Tuesday night was cancer research. The dollars raised will help make a difference. I hope that people will join the Jimmy V Foundation team. If you want to make a donation, please call 1-800-4-JIMMY V. The life you help save may belong to someone close to you.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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