No. 15 Pittsburgh beats Oklahoma State 74-68

Travis Ford went to a cliche to sum up Oklahoma State’s two

trips to Madison Square Garden.

”You better be careful what you wish for,” Ford said Saturday

after the Cowboys lost 74-68 to No. 15 Pittsburgh, their third loss

of the season and they all have come at the building known as ”The

World’s Most Famous Arena.”

”I don’t know if we’re coming back anytime soon. The people

treated us so well. I think these trips have made us better.

Hopefully we’ll learn from this game but the Garden has not been

kind.”

Oklahoma State lost to Stanford and Virginia Tech last month in

the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Cowboys fell behind early against the

Panthers on Saturday and couldn’t overcome a 16-point second-half

deficit.

”I thought we would play better than we did,” Ford said. ”We

still gave ourselves a chance even with all the stats that didn’t

go our way. Hopefully our team sees we’re close.”

The Panthers (9-1) led by as many as 16 points in the second

half, but Oklahoma State (6-3) was able to get within five twice

late. Each time, Ashton 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.”

Oklahoma State senior guard Keiton Page said the loss did show a

lot to the Cowboys.

”We can compete with a team like Pittsburgh and we went down to

the wire,” he said. ”We competed the entire game. It shows we can

be better if we do the little things. The sky’s the limit for this

basketball team.”

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.”

Le’Bryan Nash had 20 points for the Cowboys (6-3).

”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,” 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.”