Pitt overcomes sluggish start, beats Morehead State 72-62


Led by junior forward Jamel Artis’ 22 points, Pitt went on a scoring burst in the second half and defeated Morehead State 72-62 to take the second game of the Gotham Classic.

Head coach Jamie Dixon believed that his Panthers could take advantage of an aggressive Morehead State squad by attacking them inside.

That is what exactly Pitt did on Sunday afternoon against the Eagles.

The Panthers had a successful day at the free throw line, making 29 of 36 attempts (86%).  Dixon knew they were going to be aggressive, given their last game was a 33-point blowout courtesy of Indiana, and the Eagles had a week to practice.  Pitt simply drove to the basket and were rewarded with free throws.

Pitt’s leading scorer was Artis, who made 10 of 11 free throw attempts, and Pitt increased their lead to 19 in the second half.  The Eagles responded with a late surge to make things interesting, but Pitt hung on for the 10-point victory to improve to 8-1, while Morehead State fell to 5-3.

Morehead State matched possession by possession with Pitt early on, as a layup by DeJuan Marrero tied it at 19-19 with 7:32 remaining in the half.  Junior forward Michael Young essentially carried Pitt in the first half, and he capped off a 6-0 run with a dunk to extend Pitt’s lead to 26-19.

Pitt ended the half with a 5-0 run, and began the second half with an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 46-28 with 17:11 remaining in the game.

For Pitt, Artis led the way with 22 points while Young added 20 points and 6 rebounds.  Graduate transfer center Rafael Maia continues to hustle at the center position, hauling in 9 rebounds and scoring 4 points.

Morehead State was led by guard Brent Arrington’s 13 points and 4 assists, while guard Corban Collins and forward Lyonell Gaines scored 11 points each.

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The Panthers outrebounded Morehead State 37-28, recorded 32 points in the paint and shot 45.7% from the field (21 of 46).  Pitt struggled from the three-point line, making only 1 of 13 attempts against an Eagles squad who ranked 16th nationally in giving up only 59.9 points per game.

Pitt leads the ACC in scoring at 87 points per game, but they failed to reach 80 points for the second game this season.  Despite the three-point shooting difficulties, Pitt compensated by being more aggressive on offense.  I enjoy when Pitt has a faster tempo on offense, and the next game against Davidson would be a nice resume booster.


Next: Pitt advances to 7-1

Pitt will play Davidson at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday, in the featured game of the Gotham Classic.