PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Gary McGhee scored all of his 13 points in the second half, grabbing a key rebound and making two free throws with 18 seconds left to lead No. 5 Pittsburgh past feisty Providence 83-79 on Tuesday night.
Gilbert Brown scored 17 points in the first half, but he ran into foul trouble in the second and finished with 19. That meant the Panthers (14-1, 2-0 Big East) needed help from someone else, and Travon Woodall and McGhee were the ones who came through.
After Pitt took a 77-76 lead on Woodall's 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, Providence's Gerard Coleman put a 3-pointer off the back of the rim and McGhee outjumped two Friars for his ninth rebound. He was fouled in the fight for the ball, and he made both free throws.
Marshon Brooks scored 28 points for the Friars (11-5, 0-3). Vincent Council had 13 points, 10 assists and six of Providence's 14 steals. But he also had five turnovers and he missed two free throws with 11 seconds left that turned meaningful when Brooks hit a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 4 seconds remaining.
Woodall made all four free throw attempts down the stretch to protect the lead. He finished with nine points.
Pitt's visit brought back memories of the Friars' victory in 2009 over the top-ranked Panthers — the biggest win of coach Keno Davis' career. But last season PC fell to 12-19, with a 4-14 mark in the conference that included a season-ending 11-game losing streak.
Pittsburgh moved up one spot in The Associated Press Top 25 this week after opening its conference schedule with a victory over then-No. 4 Connecticut. But the Panthers, whose only loss this season was to then-No. 11 Tennessee, had more trouble than expected from the school that finished 15th in the 16-team Big East last season.
Brown started 5 of 6 from 3-point range with his only miss coming on a hurried buzzer-beater to end the half. But he picked up his third foul early in the second and his fourth with 12:29 left in the game.
Pitt led 72-68 with 2:42 left when the Friars scored eight straight points, thanks in part to two offensive foul calls against Brad Wanamaker. Providence got a 3-pointer by Duke Mondy and a layup from Kadeem Batts before Brooks hit a fallaway 3-pointer with 90 seconds to play for the Friars' biggest lead of the game, 76-72.
But McGhee scored underneath, then Woodall hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds to play to give the Panthers the lead for good.