Patterson puts stamp on Pitt basketball victory vs. Oklahoma State
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NEW YORK -- Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall go back and forth about who will be the first to register a triple-double. Woodall, Pitt's do-it-all point guard, is out for another three weeks with an abdominal injury, which gives Patterson an opportunity to earn bragging rights.
Saturday afternoon, Patterson nearly got that elusive triple-double against Oklahoma State. As it was, Pitt's sophomore small forward had to settle for his first career double-double in a 74-68 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Patterson had 12 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes as the Panthers (9-1) held off a late rally by the Cowboys (6-3).
"I thought he played really well," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "He's always going to be a guy who does a lot of different things. He was really good early. We ran more plays for him. He got other guys shots. He does a lot of good things, and he's only a sophomore."
Patterson posted career highs in rebounds and assists. He had six assists by halftime, facilitating an offense that played flawlessly in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers shot 57 percent from the field and went to the locker room with a 42-30 lead.
"I did something coach didn't want me to do -- get the rebound and go," Patterson said. "I just saw opportunities. I know I can make plays. I feel like coach had faith in me today. He allowed me to play my game."
While Patterson displayed his terrific all-around game, senior guard Ashton Gibbs again was Pitt's high scorer with 17 points.
He played a pivotal role late in both halves. Oklahoma State kept Gibbs in check for most of the game, except for a two-minute stretch late in the first half when he drilled two 3-pointers to help the Panthers take a 42-30 lead at halftime.
Cowboys coach Travis Ford thought the game turned when Gibbs got loose for those two shots 28 seconds apart. What had been a manageable five-point deficit turned into a double-digit deficit his team could not erase.
"They killed us," Ford said of the two 3-pointers from Gibbs. "Backbreakers."
Gibbs was forced to play all but one minute because of the absence of Woodall, who missed a third consecutive game. Gibbs was 4 for 8 from the field, but he made 7 of 8 from the free-throw line and only had one turnover against the Cowboys, who used a full-court press much of the game.
"The pace of his game is impressive," Ford said. "He controls the game."
Ford also had high praise for Pitt's other senior -- power forward Nasir Robinson. He called Robinson "maybe my favorite player in the country."
"The guy understands his game and his role," Ford said. "He does it all. He's a really good player."
Robinson had 15 points and six rebounds, giving him an average of 16.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in the past three games. Robinson has led an impressive rebounding effort that continued Saturday.
Pitt clobbered Oklahoma State on the boards, outrebounding the Cowboys, 43-25. The Panthers had 14 offensive rebounds and 40 points in the paint.
Robinson had three offensive rebounds, giving him 19 in the past three games. Reserve center Dante Taylor had a team-high four offensive boards and finished with a line of 8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 24 minutes.
The plus-18 effort on the boards came four days after the Panthers set a school record for rebounding in a game when they grabbed 60 in a victory against VMI Tuesday night. In the past three games, the Panthers have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 21 per game.
"Coach always preaches to us about rebounding," Robinson said. "We got this rebounding drill in practice where we throw each other around for 10 minutes. We know if we don't rebound, we have that rebounding drill the next day."
The Panthers dominated the game statistically, but allowed the contest to get interesting in the final minute. Despite that 18-rebound edge and shooting 53 percent from the field, Pitt allowed Oklahoma State to draw within five points twice in the final 20 seconds after the Cowboys trailed by 16 midway through the second half.
Robinson made one of two free throws with 34 seconds left to make it 71-61, but Keiton Page made a 3-pointer, and Markel Brown scored on a layup after Pitt freshman John Johnson committed his fourth turnover.
Unlike the game last Saturday at Tennessee, when the Panthers almost blew an eight-point lead in the final minute, Gibbs was able to get the ball in his hands and get to the free-throw line. He made three of four free throws in the final 18 seconds to salt the game away.
First Published December 11, 2011 12:00 am