Pitt Basketball Redeems Itself, Blows Out Kansas State To Take Third In Maui


Nov 26, 2014; Lahaina, Maui, HI, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Jevon Thomas (1) is guarded by Pittsburgh Panthers guard James Robinson (0) during the 2014 EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In the Maui Invitational semifinals, the Kansas State Wildcats fell just short of upsetting No. 3 Arizona, whereas Pitt was offensively and defensively dominated by No. 15 San Diego State.

Flash forward to the third place consolation game, and one would think that Kansas State should have its way with Pitt.

That was not the case Wednesday night, as Pitt recovered and wore down the Wildcats in the second half for a 70-47 victory.

For the Panthers (4-2), true freshman forward Ryan Luther from Gibsonia provided a huge spark, scoring 13 points and knocking down 3 out of 4 three point attempts off the bench.

Junior point guard James Robinson led the Panthers with 14 points 6 assists, and 4 steals, sophomore forward Michael Young added 13 points and 7 rebounds, and sophomore forward Jamel Artis had his best game in Hawaii with 10 points.

Young was the most consistent Panther in the tournament; hence he was named to the Maui All-Tournament Team.

For Kansas State (3-3), senior forward Thomas Gipson scored 13 points and 6 rebounds, and sophomore guard Marcus Foster was held to only 7 points on 3 of 9 shooting.

The Wildcats jumped out to an early 10-3 lead, which likely worried Pitt fans that a repeat of San Diego State may ensue.

The Panthers punched back, tying the game at 14 when Luther drained a three pointer.  Robinson advanced the Pitt lead to 30-22 with under 2 minutes remaining, but Gipson scored the last 5 points of the first half to cut the Kansas State deficit to only 3.

Pitt went into the half with a 30-27 lead, feeling much better than the 14-point deficit the previous game.

In the first ten minutes of the second half, Kansas State only scored 7 points, and a Young layup increased the Pitt lead to 45-34.

The Wildcats scoring woes continued, as they only made 1 field goal in the final 8 minutes of the game, and Pitt walk-on Joshua Ko buried a three pointer at the end of the game to make it 70-47.

In my last article, I blasted Pitt’s defensive effort, as teams appeared to be scoring at will.  Kansas State only shot 32.6% (15 of 46), whereas Pitt shot 55.3% (26 of 47).  This shows some promise that Pitt could recover from a thrashing the night before.

On the offensive side, the two true freshmen, Luther and Cameron Johnson both have very nice shots and can knock down three pointers.  The intriguing part about both of these players is that they are both taller than 6-foot-6, which could potentially result in some matchup problems.

We have to remember that this is only one game, though this does improve Pitt’s non-conference wins.  Kansas State played very tough against Arizona, and they certainly may have had a letdown last night.  Nonetheless, chalk up an important win for a very young Pitt team.

Incase you were wondering, Arizona defeated San Diego State 61-59 in a very close, highly contested championship game.

Pitt’s trip to Hawaii was more of a disappointment than success, as the Panthers lost their tune-up game to Hawaii and were blown away by the Aztecs.

Defeating Kansas State and finishing third place was a nice consolation for the Panthers, but I am sure they are disappointed in their effort against San Diego State.  It was a great sign to see Pitt redeem itself last night.

We know teams gel and change over time, so this is certainly a step in the right direction for a young Jamie Dixon squad.

Pitt’s next game will be Tuesday night, as the Panthers travel to Indiana to take part in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.