LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)– Pittsburgh opened the Maui Invitational by winning a game it was supposed to and lost in embarrassing fashion in the semifinals.
The Panthers closed out their trip to paradise by playing their best game of the season.
James Robinson had 14 points and six assists, and Pittsburgh was sharp at both ends to beat Kansas State 70-47 Wednesday in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational.
“That’s a very good team, Kansas State, that we beat and we beat it the way we wanted to do it as far as defense, execution on the offensive end and smart play throughout,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
Inconsistent to start the season, Pittsburgh (4-2) pulled it all together against the Wildcats, working the ball around for good shots inside and out, while limiting Kansas State’s chances at the other end.
The Panthers shot 55 percent and made 8 of 15 3-pointers after a lackluster shooting performance against No. 15 San Diego State in the semifinals.
Ryan Luther and Michael Young had 13 points apiece for Pitt.
Pittsburgh was solid at the defensive end, too, holding Kansas State (3-3) to 32 percent shooting, including 2 of 13 on 3-pointers.
The Panthers were particularly good against Marcus Foster, preventing K-State’s dynamic guard from getting loose for open shots. He had seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Thomas Gipson led Kansas State with 13 points and six rebounds.
“We had to share the ball better,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “When we move the ball and get it to open people, we’re a better team.”
The Wildcats held their composure down the stretch in the Maui opener against Purdue and were right with No. 3 Arizona in the semifinals, losing a hard-fought game 72-68.
Pittsburgh rolled over Chaminade in its opener behind a dominating performance on the glass, but couldn’t keep up when the intensity rose in the semifinals, losing 74-57 to No. 15 San Diego State.
The Panthers were manhandled in that game by the big, strong Aztecs, unable to do much at either end of the floor.
Pittsburgh held its ground better against another physical team in the third-place game, refusing to get pushed around by K-State’s beefy big men, Gipson and Stephen Hurt.
The Panthers led 30-27 at halftime and locked the Wildcats down to open the second half, holding them without a field goal — 0-for-5 shooting, two turnovers — over the first five minutes.
“First five minutes of the second half, we just couldn’t seem to get over the hump,” Weber said. “We just didn’t make the right read, the right play.”
Pitt pushed the lead to 41-30 on Luther’s straightaway 3-pointer and kept hounding the Wildcats into missed shots to maintain its cushion.
The Panthers held Kansas State to 23 percent shooting in the second half while making 15 of 23 shots at the other end.
Not a bad way to end a road trip, especially after being humiliated the day before.
“We came out and played really, really hard on defense,” Young said. “We paid attention to detail and got the job done.”