New York, NY (Sports Network) – Ashton Gibbs led a second-half charge and ended with 24 points — 19 in the final 20 minutes — as fifth-ranked Pittsburgh held on for a 68-66 victory over Texas to win the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
The Panthers (5-0) had a chance to seal the game with Travon Woodall at the free throw line for a 1-and-1 with 12.1 seconds left and leading by two. However, he missed the front end, giving Texas a chance to tie or win the game.
Cory Joseph sprinted up the court and tried to drive to the right side. He was unable to get any penetration and threw up a hopeless hook shot toward the basket. The ball never reached the rim, and Pitt’s Nasir Robinson grabbed the rebound with just seconds remaining and quickly threw an outlet pass to drain the rest of the clock for the win.
“We definitely want to take the ball to the basket and go at it, drive the ball, try and get it there and we didn’t get it there,” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. “And you have to give Pitt credit for it, but we were going to put pressure on the rim and we got too deep. Obviously with help we would have kicked it out. It just didn’t work for us.”
Brad Wanamaker and Robinson both finished with nine points for Pitt, which is 5-0 for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
“You have to give credit to Texas,” said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. “We got outrebounded. We plan to win the battle of the boards every night and we didn’t get it done tonight. Our ball screens were good but they did a good job of guarding them. They are well coached and very talented.”
Jordan Hamilton scored 28 to lead the Longhorns (3-1), who were looking to win their second straight game against a ranked opponent after topping 13th-ranked Illinois on Thursday. J’Covan Brown contributed 14 points in defeat.
Pittsburgh led, 31-28, after a tightly contested first half and scored the first six points of the second half, grabbing a 37-28 lead on a Wanamaker layup.
Texas responded with a 10-2 run to climb to within 39-38 on a Brown jumper and three-pointer with 15 minutes to play. The back-and-forth affair continued, as Pitt answered with a 10-2 run — all 10 points were scored by Gibbs, whose three-pointer pushed the advantage back to nine, 49-40, with just under 13 minutes left.
Hamilton followed with back-to-back threes, and a Brown free throw had Texas within 49-47, but Pittsburgh scored eight straight points. A Wanamaker dunk and three-pointer pushed the margin to 57-47 with a bit over eight minutes to go.
Seven consecutive points from Texas had the Longhorns within three on Gary Johnson’s jumper with six minutes left, and an 8-2 rally — the last five points from Hamilton — cut Pitt’s lead to 63-62 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Pittsburgh leads the all-time series, 2-1, beating Texas for the first time since 1991…The Panthers scored 26 points off 17 Texas turnovers, while the Longhorns registered just 13 points off 11 Pitt miscues…Pittsburgh is the second straight Big East team to win this tournament after Syracuse beat North Carolina last year.