MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade probably ended any debate over whether he is ready for the NBA.
Wade poured in 20 of his 22 points in a sensational second half as third-seeded Marquette held off a late surge by No. 2 Pittsburgh for a 77-74 victory in the semifinals of the Midwest Region.
Marquette (26-5) advanced to a regional final for the first time since Al McGuire coached the school to the 1977 national championship. The Golden Eagles face Kentucky on Saturday.
Wade scored on an array of jumpers, dunks and drives that displayed his amazing athleticism. His dunk on a fast break opened a 70-59 advantage with 4:51 left.
"Our record since he's been here is 52-12," Marquette coach Tom Crean noted. "Whenever he's `struggling,' he's always finds ways to make his teammates better. That's why we're sitting here tonight."
Pittsburgh (28-5) used an 11-1 run, pulling within one point on Chevy Troutman's layup with 1:28 left. Marquette's Scott Merritt made a pair from the line before Brandin Knight answered with a layup.
The Golden Eagles patiently ran their offense before Wade took a handoff from Travis Diener. He blew past Knight, hung in the air and banked home a tough layup over the outstretched arm of Troutman.
"Travis gave me the ball on a handoff and I knew I wanted to go to the hole, either drop it up or take it all the way," Wade said. "I used a move that I hadn't used all year. It was a move I used from last year."
"Wade had a great game and really did an unbelievable job of taking over at the offensive end," Panthers coach Ben Howland said. "He's just a great player."
Knight responded with two free throws to again pull Pittsburgh within a point. Two foul shots by Merritt provided a 77-74 lead with 11 seconds left.
The Panthers went to Knight, who got Wade in the air before missing a 3-pointer with six seconds to go. A 57 percent foul shooter, Knight decided against leaning into Wade to try to draw a foul.
"I wasn't going to try to put the game in the ref's hands," Knight said. "That's why I didn't try to draw the contact."
Diener missed a pair of foul shots, giving Pitt one last chance. But Carl Krauser's 3-pointer from beyond half-court sailed over the backboard as the Panthers' 11-game winning streak ended.
Wade picked up two fouls in the game's first six minutes and saw limited playing time in the first half. He made up for it by hitting 9-of-14 shots in the second half, shredding Pitt's defense.
"If you have a bad first half, it doesn't mean you'll have a bad second half," Wade said. "I always keep that in mind and my teammates and coaches gave me confidence. Even though I struggled in the first half, I still had the confidence to so it in the second half."
Robert Jackson had five points and Wade made a layup as the Golden Eagles scored seven straight points for a 43-37 lead with 16:37 to go. After Julius Page nailed a 3-pointer for Pittsburgh, Wade turned the game into a personal highlight film.
Wade nailed a pair of tough jumpers around a basket by the Panthers' Carl Krauser. A steal by Diener led to a one-handed dunk by Wade, making it 49-42 with just under 15 minutes left.
Wade turned in the game's most acrobatic play near the midpoint of the second half. He sliced past a pair of defenders and was fouled as Jaron Brown pulled his right arm down. Incredibly, Wade released a shot with the ball just a few feet above the floor and banked it in. He completed the three-point play for a 60-51 advantage.
"He has the ability to take over the game at any time," Diener said. "That's what makes him probably the best player in the nation."
Before the game, there was talk Wade would be guarded by Page, one of the best defenders in the country. Pitt instead alternated Page, Brown and even Knight - all with little success in the second half.
Pitt was known for a bruising style that carried it to its first Big East Conference tournament title. But Marquette's frontcourt of Jackson and Merritt did most of the punishing, helping frustrate the Panthers.
"We knew we were going against an excellent team that wouldn't beat themselves," Crean said. "Our players never back down and never flinched. They kept playing and battling."
Merritt scored 17 points and Jackson added 16 for Marquette, which shot 52 percent (28-of-54), the highest allowed by Pitt since a loss at Notre Dame on February 9. The duo combined to make 10-of-14 shots.
Marquette's big men also frustrated Donatas Zavackas and Ontario Lett, who combined for only 11 points. Zavackas showed his frustration when he yelled at Howland after being taken out in the second half and refused to re-enter the game.
"He went over and pouted because I took him out of the game," Howland said. "He's very emotional, that's one of the things that makes him such a good player. He's tough and hard-nosed. This was his last game, as it turns out, I'm not going to play games so I didn't play him anymore. He's a great kid and he'll learn from his mistake because this is something you can never get back."
Knight scored 16 points and handed out a season-high 11 assists in his last game for Pitt, which shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the second half. Troutman had 15 points and Brown added 14 and six rebounds.
"I'm sick. It's hard to swallow this loss," Knight said. "There are a lot of things we could have done better."
The Panthers never have advanced past the "Sweet 16."
Pitt maintained control early, building a 15-6 lead on Page's dunk with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half. But Marquette switched to a stifling 2-3 zone and embarked on a 14-4 tear, moving in front 22-21 on Todd Townsend's 3-pointer with 5:34 left.
Diener, who scored 55 points in the first two rounds, was limited to four on 2-of-8 shooting but came through with eight assists. Freshman Steve Novak provided a spark with nine points on three 3-pointers.