No. 15 Pittsburgh beats Oklahoma State 74-68By JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer Saturday, Dec 10, 2011
NEW YORK (AP)—Pittsburgh did what it does best and the Panthers are off to another good start.
Ashton Gibbs scored 17 points, including three free throws in the final 17 seconds, and No. 15 Pittsburgh dominated the backboards in a 74-68 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Cowboys’ third loss of the season and all of them have come at Madison Square Garden.
The Panthers (9-1) led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but Oklahoma State was able to get within five twice late. Each time, Gibbs was able to make at least one free throw.
But the game was won because of the Panthers’ rebounding, a part of the game they have always excelled in and Pittsburgh is fourth in the nation in that statistic right now.
“It is what we do,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It is ingrained in our program. We recruit guys with a nose for the ball.”
The Panthers finished with a 43-25 rebound advantage and outscored the Cowboys 40-26 in the paint.
“Rebounding was the key,” Dixon said. “That’s what we do.”
Nasir Robinson had 15 points for Pittsburgh, while Lamar Patterson added 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“We have a rebounding drill in practice where we throw each other around pretty good,” Robinson said. “We just go out and rebound and everything else takes care of itself.”
“You can’t get outrebounded like that,” Nash said. “It was a terrible job by us.”
Gibbs had eight points—including two 3s—in Pitt’s 17-7 run to close the first half that gave the Panthers a 42-30 lead.
Pittsburgh extended the lead to 16 points three times, the last at 59-43 on a basket by Patterson with 9:03 to play.
The Cowboys, who started the second half by missing 13 of their first 17 shots, later rallied.
“You just can’t get down to a top 15 team by 12 at halftime and get outrebounded significantly,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “We dug ourselves a hole and when we came back that should have been a run to put us up instead of getting close. We didn’t adjust to their physicality until midway in the second half and we played well from then on.”
Oklahoma State got within 71-66 with 20 seconds to play when Markel Brown stole a pass, scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw and Gibbs made two foul shots one second later.
Reger Dowell’s layup with 10 seconds to go made it 73-68, but Gibbs made one of two from the line. The miss was his only one of the game as he finished 7 of 8 and the Panthers were 18 of 29. The Cowboys were 9 of 13 from the free throw line.
“Gibbs just controls the basketball game. He is a very impressive player,” Ford said of the Big East preseason player of the year. “All they say about him is true. There is a great pace to his game.”
After the poor start to the second half, Oklahoma State finished 14 of 33 from the field (42.4 percent) in the final 20 minutes.
“I wish we could have finished better,” Dixon said, “we have to do a better job of that.”