Pitt Men’s Basketball: Panthers Roll Over Niagara In Season Opener


Nov 14, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Jamel Artis (1) drives to the basket against the Niagara Purple Eagles during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Niagara Purple Eagles were no match for Jamie Dixon’s Pitt Panthers in the season opener.  Pitt started the game on a 32-4 run, and the Panthers never looked back, defeating Niagara 78-45.

Eleven different players scored for Pitt, as sophomore forward Jamel Artis led the way with 14 points.  Sophomore guard Josh Newkirk came off the bench and scored 12, whereas true freshmen guard Cameron Johnson chipped in 11.  Sophomore guard Chris Jones also scored in double digits with 10 points.

The Panthers played stout defense, rebounded well, and were very unselfish with the basketball.

For Niagara, sophomore guard Emile Blackman led the way with 16 points, but the Purple Eagles were never competitive in the game.  Composed of 13 underclassmen and only one junior, Niagara was overpowered in every facet of the game.

Niagara is extremely young and predicted to finish last in its conference, so it is hard to get excited over this game.  Nonetheless, Pitt did what it was supposed to do against a weak nonconference opponent.

Pitt shot 52.6% (30 of 57) from the field and 43.8% from the three point line (7 of 16), with 38 rebounds and 20 assists.  Niagara shot 25% (12 of 48) and didn’t make a three pointer; they recorded 27 rebounds and only 4 assists.

Pitt held a 46-22 advantage at the half, as local product Cameron Johnson, from OLSH, had a successful first half as a Pitt Panther.

Earlier today, Jamie Dixon announced that junior guard Durand Johnson was suspended for the entire season, but no reason was given.  This is a disappointing blow to Pitt, but the Panthers will have to manage without him.

It was also reported that Pitt will open next season against Gonzaga in the Armed Forces Classic in Japan.

The Panthers will square off against Samford at home on Sunday.