FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Xavier Johnson made a short jumper with 10.1 seconds left to give his team the lead, then made two free throws with 4.6 seconds to help Pittsburgh top Kansas State 63-59 in the Fort Myers TipOff on Monday night.
“Coach drew up a play and I’m pretty good at driving to the basket,” Johnson said. “It’s a great win.”
After seeing a 57-51 lead disappear as they couldn’t score for 3:56, the Panthers (5-2) scored six points in the last 10.1 seconds. Two more free throws by Justin Champagnie clinched it with 0.1 seconds left.
Ryan Murphy and Eric Hamilton both scored 13 points for Pitt while Johnson and Champagnie added 12 each.
The Panthers won despite making just 1 of 16 3-pointers and committing 21 turnovers. They did hit 47% of their shots, went 18 of 21 on free throws and had a 40-30 rebounding advantage.
“When you have 21 turnovers and two assists, how do you win a game like that?” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “You go out and rebound like we did. Show toughness. We’re not going to out-talent most teams and they have players and a program that has a culture.”
Cartier Diarra scored 13 and DaJuan Gordon added 12, 10 straight in the first half, for Kansas State (4-1), which made just 3 of 13 free throws.
“That’s not gonna happen again,” Diarra said.
Xavier Sneed, who came in leading K-State with 16 points per game, didn’t score until 15:40 remained in the second half. He finished with eight points.
For the first time this season, Kansas State had a first-half lead, going up 30-28. The Wildcats took a 9-0 lead. They also led 27-17 before Pitt rallied.
“We didn’t finish off that first half,” Diarra said. “If we keep that 10-point lead, it’s a different story.”
Pitt: The Panthers are starting to build a nice resume with victories over two teams, which made the NCAA Tournament last season. Pitt opened the season by beating Florida State 63-61. However, it does have a big blemish, a 75-70 loss to Nicholls State.
Kansas State: Picked to finish ninth in the Big 12, the Wildcats play defense of an NCAA-Tournament caliber team but offense can be hard to find at times, especially if Sneed struggles to score and Makol Mawien gets in foul trouble like they did Monday night. They came in averaging a combined 25.5 points per game but ended up with 12 against Pitt.
Pittsburgh will play the winner of Monday’s second game between Northwestern and Bradley for the Fort Myers TipOff Championship.
Kansas State will play the loser of Monday’s second game for the Fort Myers TipOff third-place game.
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