Pitt begins Maui Invitational with Chaminade


Reports: Jamie Dixon is headed to TCU

By Dan Sostek / Assistant Sports Editor

The Pitt men’s basketball team prepares to kick off the tournament portion of the 2014 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational beginning on Monday. This is a breakdown of the rest of the field.

Chaminade: Serving as the host school for the invitational, the Division II Chaminade Silverswords are Pitt’s first-round matchup. The team is 2-0 to start the year, defeating fellow Division II schools Regis University and Saint Katherine College. With 12 of the team’s 15 players at guard, the Silverswords are one of the most undersized teams the Panthers will face all year. Their leading scorer so far is sophomore guard Kiran Shastri, who is averaging 17.5 points per game on 63 percent shooting, including an 8-14 mark from 3-point range.

BYU: The Cougars sport a 3-0 record heading into their first-round contest against San Diego State. BYU features one of the top offenses in the nation, thanks in large part to guard Tyler Haws. The senior is averaging more than 17 points per game this year after averaging more than 20 points per game the last two seasons. He’s joined in the backcourt by junior guard and Wake Forest transfer Chase Fischer, who is averaging 15.3 points and three assists per game on the year.

San Diego State: Head coach Steve Fisher once again has the Aztecs positioned as a top-25 program, as his No. 16 team already boasts a victory over No. 25 Utah. The team relies more on its depth than one particular player, but is led by senior forward JJ O’Brien, who is averaging 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Aztecs are a tough defensive team, holding CSU-Bakersfield to just 27 points in its last contest, and haven’t allowed more than 58 points per game  all season.

Arizona: As the clear favorite to win the invitational, the 3-0 Wildcats head to Maui ranked No. 2 in the nation. Head coach Sean Miller has countless weapons at his disposal. Senior point guard T.J. McConnell fills the stat sheet on a consistent basis, averaging 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 4.0 steals per game on the year. Offensively, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley pace the team, averaging 16.0 and 15.0 points per game respectively.

Missouri: The Tigers’ 2014-2015 season got off to a rocky start, as Mizzou fell to Missouri-Kansas City at home 69-61 in the team’s first game of the year. Since the loss, the team has won two straight, but did not look overly convincing in either. Freshman Montaque Gill-Caesar has been a bright spot for the team, leading in scoring so far this season, as well as being their second leading rebounder. He’s shooting just 38.3 percent from the field, a problem for the Tigers in general, as their 42.6 percent field goal percentage is 199th in the country.

Purdue: The Boilermakers have been dominant early on this season, as the team sports a 3-0 record with an average margin of victory of 33 points. They have found success by playing team-oriented basketball, as eight players on the team are averaging at least 5.7 points per game with freshman Vince Edwards leading the way with a 13.7 clip. Their offense has been extremely efficient — their 51.3 field goal percentage ranks 31st in the country — but the Boilermakers have yet to prove they can handle a spike in the level of competition.

Kansas State: The Wildcats will try to rebound in Maui from their loss to Long Beach State on Thursday, a performance that saw the team shoot an abysmal 32.8 percent from the field. Kansas State has struggled heavily on the boards this year, ranking 277th in college basketball with 32.0 rebounds per game. Coach Bruce Weber’s team has been headed by senior forward Thomas Gibson, who is averaging 17 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest, while posting a 68.4 field goal percentage.

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