Panthers knock off Wildcats 70-47 in Maui

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.
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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.
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Panthers knock off Wildcats 70-47 in Maui

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.
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Panthers knock off Wildcats 70-47 in Maui
Kansas State guard Jevon Thomas, left, pass off the basketball while being defended by Pittsburgh fo

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.''



Pittsburgh: The Panthers were outrebounded for the first time in the tournament. Kansas State had a 32-22 edge, including 14 offensive boards. ... Pitt had a 28-10 advantage off the bench.

Kansas State: The Wildcats went 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the second half. ... Nino Williams had the only blocked shot of the game by either team.


Pittsburgh plays at Indiana on Tuesday.

Kansas State faces Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Foster averaged 22 points and hit 16 of 28 shots in K-State's first two games in Maui. He went 1 of 4 from 3-point range after a 6-for-9 performance against Arizona.

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March Madness HowTo

5 simple rules To fill out your March Madness bracket

1.Rankings Matter
2.Strong Conferences
4.Margin of Victory
5.Point Spread Victory


Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Missouri -15½, Total: 142½

However, the Cowboys are one of two teams that have actually beaten the Tigers this season, winning 79-72 on Jan. 25 in Stillwater. Also, the Cowboys have been a pesky road team this season, going 5-2 ATS. Mizzou Arena is one of the toughest places to play in all of college basketball, but OSU has lost by more than eight points just once in its past nine trips to Columbia. The Cowboys are also a strong wager against Big 12 foes this season, posting a 7-4-1 ATS mark, which is the same ATS record the Tigers have in conference play. The pick here is OKLAHOMA STATE to keep the final margin within a dozen points.

Oklahoma State is working on a four-game ATS unbeaten streak (3-0-1 ATS), but the school is coming off a 13-point loss at Kansas on Saturday. The Cowboys couldn’t find the ocean in that defeat, connecting on just 32.7% FG. It was quite a different story last month, as they torched the Tigers by making 60% of their shots, including 67% in front of the arc. Freshman F/G Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG) scored a career-high 27 points in that matchup, while fellow freshman teammate G Brian Williams (8.1 PPG) reached his own career high with 22 points. The defensive star that day was another freshman, F Michael Cobbins, who had 10 rebounds, four blocks and four steals. Senior SG Keiton Page, who leads OSU in points (14.4 PPG) and assists (2.3 APG), had 12 points and five assists against the Tigers, but he has gone cold since that game, shooting just 30% FG and 27% threes.

Missouri ranks seventh in the nation in points (80.2 PPG) and third in FG Pct. (50.0%), but opponents have succeeded in slowing down the Tigers recently. In the past five games, Mizzou’s scoring has dipped to 69.4 PPG, despite a strong 48.8% shooting clip. Missouri has four players averaging 12+ PPG this season, led by senior G Marcus Denmon (18.0 PPG). Denmon scored 17 points in the loss in Stillwater, but he struggled with his shot, going 4-of-16 that night. He has certainly found his stroke lately though, pumping in 23.3 PPG on a blistering 57% FG (14-of-26 threes) in his past three contests. Senior F Ricardo Ratliffe (14.0 PPG) continues to lead the nation with an insane 73.7% shooting clip, and he burned the Cowboys for 25 points and 12 rebounds in last month’s upset loss in Stillwater. The other big scorers for the Tigers are both excellent three-point shooters. Senior G Kim English (14.0 PPG) makes a whopping 47% from behind the arc while junior G Michael Dixon (12.4 PPG) makes a solid 36% of his threes.

Final Four Preview: No. 5 Butler Bulldogs vs. No. 5 Michigan State Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans are back in the Final Four for the second consecutive season, also for the 6th time in 12 years! In addition to the game clinching free throws, Morgan had his 6th double double of the basketball season, scoring 13 points and pulling down a 10 boards against a the Tennessee Vols who refused to go away peacefully. Junior Durrell Summers led scorers with 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting and his avg. is 22.5 ppg in the 2010 NCAA Tourney, almost 12 points more than his season average. The Michigan State Spartans have won two games in the absence of point guard Kalin Lucas as Summers, Draymond Green and Korie Lucious have picked up the scoring with the team's leading scorer out.

The MSU Spartans are the only team left in the tournament with experience at this level. They did it last year, and a big part of this team's contributors played lots of minutes the team last year. Coach Izzo has a March legacy, and he's lost just three times in the second game of NCAA Tournament weekends in his career. This means, if he gets to the championship game, he won’t be easy to beat. Durrell Summers, Korie Lucious and Draymond Green join Morgan in playing the best basketball of their careers. MSU could be the most athletic team left.

The Butler Bulldogs and the Michigan State Spartans are at opposite ends of the world in terms of experience in playing in this tournament, as the Bulldogs are making the first Final Four appearance in school history after beating Kansas State on Saturday 63 – 56. The Butler Bulldogs, who have now won an impressive 24 straight games, are allowing a only 56.5 ppg in the tourney and haven't allowed to team to score 60 or more points in a game since Feb. 26, 2010. The Bulldogs defense is led by guard Willie Veasley, the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, who, with the help of Ronald Nored, held Kansas State's backcourt duo of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen scoreless for almost 30 minutes. It’s not all hype this Butler Bulldogs team can play.

Now to the important section of this article the college basketball betting picks. has Butler favorites by 1.5 points with the over / under at 126.

The Michigan State Spartans are 27 - 8 money line and 14 - 20 ATS. The Butler Bulldogs are 32 - 4 money line and 16 - 20 ATS. When they have played common teams, the MSU Spartans are 5-2 straight up and 4-3 ATS. The Bulldogs are 4-1 outright, but just 2-3 ATS.

The Spartans averages 72.5 ppg against teams normally allowing 66 points. This is on 47.2 percent shooting to teams that usually only permit just 42.4 percent.
The stats for the Big 10 schools are even more staggering on the defensive end. They allow only 64 points per game against teams that normally get only 69.4 points, which makes them a 40.6 percent shooting team when they are usually a 44.2 percent shooting team.

Butler scores 69.4 ppg against teams that score about 66.7 on 45 percent shooting versus 42.9 percent. They are not slugs on defense either, they only allow 59.6 points per game where teams usually shoot at 44.6 percent.

Michigan State is 25-10 in the NCAA Tournament ATS all time. Butler is 43-21 outside the conference ATS. If we look at over / under trends the Spartans have gone over 8 - 0 against the Horizon League, but under 30-12 when they are underdogs. All key points for college basketball bettors to keep an eye on.

I predict that the Spartans will beat out the Bulldogs, Izzo will get his team ready and I think the bright lights and big atmosphere will be too much for Butler. MSU +1.5