On personal hot streak, Artis, Pitt beat Georgia Tech 70-65
By: Ryan Bertonaschi
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has shown few clear trends in his lineup appointments through the Panthers’ first 18 games.
Center Michael Young and point guard James Robinson have been Pitt’s lone two players to receive guaranteed minutes over the course of the season. Young has averaged 33.1 minutes per night, while Robinson sees the floor for an average of 33.3 minutes. Senior guard Cameron Wright has seen an increase in playing time (25.6 minutes) since returning from a broken foot but has only recently begun receiving “starter-type” minutes.
After Pitt (13-5, 3-2 ACC) beat Georgia Tech (9-8, 0-5 ACC) 70-65 Saturday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center, it became clear, however, that Pitt starting power forward Jamel Artis has become the newest member of the crowd of Panthers that receives guaranteed minutes.
Artis lost 15 pounds this offseason and started the season slowly. He’s scored an average of 13.7 points over his past three games, and he’s shown no hesitation to catch and shoot the ball on offense.
Artis tied Cameron Wright for a game-high 20 points on Saturday. Artis played 32 minutes; Young, 31; Robinson, 33; and Wright, 34.
Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said that, because of Pitt’s poor outside shooting and perimeter screening abilities, he threw a 2-3 zone at the Panthers for the majority of the game.
In response to the zone, Dixon put his trust in Artis.
“I thought Jamel was really good against the zone,” Dixon said.
Pitt held on despite being outrebounded by double-digits (39-29). The Panthers also allowed the Yellow Jackets, who entered the game as the 9th best offensive rebounding team in the country, to grab 16 offensive rebounds, opposed to Pitt’s 12.
Young gave the Panthers 16 points and 6 rebounds, and Dixon praised Aron Phillips-Nwankwo, the unsung star of Pitt’s 73-64 win over Florida State on Wednesday, for his stout defense.
“I think over the past couple of weeks,” Gregory said of Pitt, “That Jamie [Dixon] has done a great job of getting back to Pitt basketball with the toughness and physicality that they’re known for… It’s a really good team that’s really starting to play well.”
Monday evening, the Panthers play their first road game against the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (15-2, 3-2 ACC) since Pitt joined the ACC.
“I do believe our best basketball is ahead of us,” Dixon said. “We’ve fought and we’ve battled, and we’ve put ourselves in a spot where we’re in contention.”