Fields again rises in the clutch for Pitt

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

BOSTON – Sam Young is Pittsburgh's leading scorer. DeJuan Blair is the Panthers' co-Big East Player of the Year.

Levance Fields is the guy who makes final-minute, game-winning plays.

"In those situations I like Levance," Young said.

"Me too," Blair said.

So there was no doubt who was getting the ball Thursday, down 54-52 to Xavier, under a minute remaining in the Sweet 16. Fields delivered with a go-ahead 3-pointer, then a steal and layup to essentially salt the game away and get the Panthers to the brink of the Final Four.

Pitt won 60-55 and will play Villanova on Saturday.

"I never get tired of watching Levance take big shots," coach Jamie Dixon said. "He's made them year after year. Our guys believe in him. I believe in him. And that's all that matters."

Fields said he's always enjoyed being a late-game closer. He said he's been known for it from the playgrounds of Brooklyn, to a star career at Xaverian High School and now throughout his four years at Pitt.

He isn't the best player in the country. He may be the most clutch though.

He said he wants the ball but his confidence has been bolstered by the support of his teammates, who defer to the 5-foot-10 guard.

"I've got two stars on each side of me who could step up in that situation," Fields said. "I do have confidence, but especially to have my coach and my teammates to believe in me down the stretch. … It's a special feeling."

Fields also hit a critical late 3-pointer to help Pitt get past Oklahoma State in the second round.

It's all part of the Panthers doing it the hard way in this tournament. They're the lone No. 1 seed that didn't cruise into the Sweet 16. They needed tight victories and big plays to advance. The players shrug at the challenge, pointing out that winning is all that matters and they're accustomed to winning that way.

Besides, after hearing endless talk about how the program needed to get past the Sweet 16 (this is their first regional final since 1974) they really didn't care how they did it.

"We're a confident group," Fields said. "We understand that no game is going to be easy. Fortunately for us, in some ways we still haven't played our best basketball, but other opponents have been playing excellent.

"We're positive in this situation. It hasn't been a blowout, but we're making the plays down the stretch when the game is on the line. And we keep advancing and hopefully on Saturday we can play better. But if we have to win again like this, we'll take it."

And if it's close Saturday, Fields will take it.