The 24th ranked Pitt Panthers had five players in double-digit scoring and were able to hang on against Georgia Tech for a 89-84 win at the Peterson Events Center.
Since joining the ACC, Georgia Tech has not been able to beat Pitt. That trend continued tonight with a 89-84 Pitt victory.
The Panthers were out-rebounded 38 to 34 and allowed a 30-point scorer in Adam Smith (8 three-pointers), but Jamie Dixon’s high-powered offense was too much for the Yellow Jackets.
It is remarkable to see the change in style from Pitt, who now average 86 points per game and lead the country in free-throw shooting percentage.
I’ve always wanted Pitt to play a faster tempo, which we saw last season in a stretch where Pitt defeated Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Syracuse.
Senior point guard James Robinson led the way for Pitt (13-1, 2-0 ACC) with 18 points and eight assists, while junior forward Jamel Artis scored 18 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Junior forward Michael Young got into early foul trouble and missed most of the first half, but he still scored 17 points, while senior guard Sterling Smith knocked down three of five three-point attempts for 11 points.
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Junior forward Sheldon Jeter continues to show the country that he is the best 6th man in college basketball, as he scored 10 points and hauled in six rebounds. Senior center Rafael Maia hauled in 12 rebounds and was a presence inside for Pitt.
Georgia Tech (10-5, 0-2 ACC) had three players combine for 64 points, as senior graduate transfer Adam Smith made eight three-pointers and finished with a career-high 30 points, while senior forward Charles Mitchell added 20 points and dominated inside with 17 rebounds. Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 14 points and had six assists.
Adam Smith’s name should ring a bell for Pitt fans, as he knocked down 6 three-pointers for Virginia Tech last season against Pitt.
Pitt continues to bury their free throws, making 25 of 30 (83.3%), and both teams shot nearly 50% from the field in a high scoring affair. Pitt’s brand of basketball is more fun to watch this season, and the Panthers are already only six wins shy of last season’s total. The Panthers are also careful with the basketball, finishing with only four turnovers tonight.
Eight minutes into the game, Pitt jumped out to a 21-9 lead on jumpers by the trio of forwards in Young, Artis, and Jeter.
Georgia Tech countered with a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 2, but Robinson and Pitt surged ahead with an 11-0 run to make it 34-21.
Pitt led 42-36 at the half, and gave up the first 5 points of the second half. A Smith three-pointer cut the score to 42-41. Artis would then make back-to-back three pointers to give Pitt some breathing room.
Up 56-52, Pitt started to get to the free throw line, displaying their No. 1 free throw shooting percentage. An onslaught of free throws, followed by a Young jumper gave Pitt a 75-60 advantage with a little under six minutes to go.
Adam Smith made four three-pointers late in the game to cut the lead, but Pitt continued to make their free throws, and the No. 24 Panthers hung on 89-84.
Pitt has entered the AP Top 25 for the first time since February 2014, and their up-tempo, high-powered offensive approach has proven to be effective in the ACC thus far. Did we ever expect to see Pitt pushing the ball up the court like this?
Pitt will travel to Notre Dame and face the 9-4 Irish at 4PM on Saturday, January 9th.