Pitt State men’s basketball is back in action. The Gorillas played the role of punching bag to a pair of regional Big 12 powers in exhibition game losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State.
First off was a trip to Norman for a game with the Oklahoma Sooners. Pitt State dropped the contest by a score of 92-58.
Oklahoma comes into the season picked ninth in the Big 12 following the departure of first team All American Trae Young to the NBA this offseason, so if the Gorillas were going to have a chance in one of these exhibitions, this was the game to win.
Early on that looked like it could be the case. With 10:58 to play in the first half, a layup by senior Demetrius Levarity brought Pitt to within four points at 20-16. That momentum was quickly crushed, though, as OU would go on an 11 point scoring run and never let the Gorillas come close after that.
“Well, it was tough for us, but the main thing we got out of it was playing under pressure,” Pitt State Men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson said. “Both teams places pressure on us. We don’t see that type of pressure during the season.”
Statistically, Levarity led the team as he transfers into a greater role on this year’s team. He would go 15 points in the contest, including an impressive three for five shooting from beyond the arc. Freshman R.J. Lawrence also went for double digits with 11 points off the bench.
The next day, Pitt hit the road north to Manhattan for another exhibition contest with the number 12 ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
K-State came into the game riding high off last season’s surprise run to the elite eight in the NCAA basketball tournament without all big 12 Dean Wade. Now, with Wade’s return, this game was over before it started.
The Wildcats raced out to a 13-point lead to open the game and never once looked back en route to the 79-39 victory.
“We did a little bit better on rebounding until the end that got away from us a little bit,” Anderson said. “I thought K-State defense was really good, which made it hard for us to execute a play. We were maybe able to get the start of it, but we unable to finish.”
That defense forced the Gorillas into bad shots all night as Pitt ended up shooting an abysmal 13 of 66 for the game. Alternatively, K-State got whatever they wanted against the outmatched Gorilla D as they would convert half of their shot attempts.
Bright spots, statistically, were few and far between. Senior Donovan Franklin led the offense in scoring with 11 points on three of 11 shooting. Levarity was impressive again as he pulled down nine boards against the big Wildcat lineup.
Pitt State now will turn their attention to the regular season with the Central Region Tip Off Challenge hosted by Coach Anderson’s former employer in Warrensburg. The Gorillas will play Wayne State on Friday at 5 p.m. and Harding at 6pm on Saturday.