No. 3 Men's Basketball defeats Pittsburgh 78-62 to capture the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic title
Nov. 25, 2009
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- This was a very costly victory for No. 3 Texas.
Starting guard Varez Ward crumbled onto the court with a right knee injury before the game even started. His replacement, J'Covan Brown, scored 12 points and helped lead the Longhorns past Pittsburgh 78-62 for the championship of the CBE Classic.
But Ward was removed from the arena in a wheelchair and was to be examined on Wednesday in Texas.
"Honestly, I don't think it looks good," said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Damion James had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Longhorns (4-0), who will return to the same building in March for the Big 12 tournament and a possible showdown with No. 1 Kansas.
But whether Ward is able to play by then was impossible to know.
"I think he just came down and landed wrong," Barnes said. "He wasn't trying to do anything. It was just one of those freak things. He's such a big part of our team. He's had such a great offseason and preseason. It's just one of those tough breaks for him. We're hoping he's going to be OK, but right now it doesn't look real good."
Texas took charge with a 14-3 run in the second half that ended the Panthers' remarkable run of 38 consecutive victories in the month of November.
Pittsburgh (4-1) was led by Brad Wanamaker with 13 points and Gary McGhee with 11.
Trailing 32-23 after Gary Johnson hit a jumper with 4:44 left in the first half, the Panthers finished with an 11-0 run and shocked the favored Longhorns by taking a 34-32 lead at the break.
Gary McGhee made two free throws in the surge and then Lamar Patterson hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 35-second span to tie it up. Dante Taylor, fouled by Gary Johnson, sank two free throws with 33 seconds left to send the Panthers into halftime with their first lead of the night.
But the Longhorns finally regained the lead at 44-43 on Johnson's two free throws following an intentional foul call on Brad Wanamaker. The next 5 minutes saw four more lead changes and one tie before Texas pulled away with a 14-3 run, fueled by James' three-point play and Jordan Hamilton's 3-pointer. Justin Mason's gliding lay-in gave the Longhorns a 63-54 lead with 7:27 to go and then Alexis Wangmene's short jumper made it 65-54 before Wanamaker's three-point play halted the surge.
"It just came down to execution and they executed better in the second half than we did," said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. "They got better shots than we did, that's the bottom line. The percentages indicate that. They shoot 65 percent in the second half, we shoot 37 percent."
Pittman, after scoring 10 points in the first half, picked up his third foul in the opening minutes of the second half and wound up with only 10 points and one rebound. But neither he nor Ward was sorely missed by the talented Longhorns.
"They're a pretty good team. You have to give them your respect," said Wanamaker. "They're long and athletic and well coached. But we still think we should have won the game."
Pittsburgh had not lost in November since South Florida beat the Panthers 69-63 on Nov. 25, 2001.