PITTSBURGH (AP) – James Robinson scored a career-high 23 points and Pittsburgh held off a late surge to beat Duquesne 76-62 in the 83rd City Game on Friday night.
Josh Newkirk added 16 points and Chris Jones scored 12, including a couple of pull-up jumpers late in the second half to turn back one last surge by the Dukes.
The Panthers (5-3) won their 14th straight in the annual meeting between crosstown rivals but needed to work for it after Duquesne (3-2) trimmed a 15-point lead to six with under three minutes remaining.
Newkirk drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead to nine and Pitt pulled away.
Jordan Stevens and TySean Powell had 15 points each for the Dukes, while Derrick Colter added 13.
The two schools are separated by just three miles geographically, though Pitt has done its best to make the series a rivalry in name only. The Panthers have dominated Dukes for the last decade-plus, with 12 of its 14 straight wins coming by at least 10 points.
Pitt is hardly a finished product. The Panthers have struggled at times on both ends of the floor and appeared vulnerable for the first time in awhile in a series that dates back to 1932.
The Dukes, however, couldn’t take advantage. Coach Jim Ferry wondered before the game if his team was tough enough to hang inside with the longer, more physical Panthers. Not quite. Pitt outrebounded Duquesne 44-37, blocked five shots and held Duquesne to just 37 percent shooting. The Dukes entered the night leading the country in 3-point shooting, making 49 percent of their 3s. They made just 7 of 22 on Friday, most of them in the second half as they tried to climb out of a sizable hole.
Little-used junior center Joseph Uchebo gave Pitt a spark early. Banging his way to the basket with ease while Duquesne focused on Pitt sophomore forward Mike Young, Uchebo finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, both career-highs.
Robinson did the rest. The junior has been a reluctant shooter at times but had little trouble letting it fly. His 14 field goal attempts were the most of his career and he knocked down three 3-pointers.
Pitt led 54-39 early in the second half before Duquesne rallied. Colter hit a 3-pointer during a 13-4 run to get the Dukes within 58-52. Jones hit a pullup jumper to make it 60-52, Robinson followed with two free throws and after another brief flurry ended with Newkirk popping a 3-pointer to push it to 68-58 Pitt was in firm control for good.
DUQUESNE: The Dukes played just their fifth game of the season on Friday night, a scheduling quirk that Ferry tried to rectify by having his team play a full game-like scrimmage on Tuesday. Ferry joked the only thing he learned from the scrimmage is that his assistant coaches were bad officials.
PITT: Senior guard Cam Wright made his season debut after missing the first month with a foot injury. Wright’s appearance was brief. The leading returning scorer, who wasn’t cleared for full practice until Thursday, missed a pair of shots in a one disjointed minute of action in the first half and did not return.
Duquesne travels to Penn State next Wednesday.
Pitt hosts St. Bonaventure next Saturday