Pitt fans were looking forward to a game against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium since the Panthers received their ACC invite. That was before the season started and it was apparent that this was not your typical Pitt team. The game against the Blue Devils turned out pretty much as expected with Pitt falling 79-65.
The Panthers (13-6 3-3) started slowly and Duke (16-2 4-2) ran to an early 15-4 lead. Pitt seemed to settle down a bit after the slow start and managed to play Duke about even throughout the rest of the half. Trailing by a score of 41-25 at the half. The Panthers made a little run in the second half to cut the lead to 10 at 44-34. Duke then hit back to back threes to extend the lead. The Blue Devils hit 11 threes for the game compared to only 3 for the Panthers. The Panthers cut the lead to 10 again with about 2:30 minutes left but just could not get any closer.
The Panthers were outrebound as expected but only by a 36-32 margin. Duke’s phenom freshman Jahlil Oakafor was held to 14 points and 3 rebounds. He was often guarded by Pitt walkon Aron Phillips-Nwankwo. that matchup tells you everything about where Duke is and where Pitt is. Pitt has a walkon playing minutes at center Duke has the #1 NBA draft pick. Duke’s other freshman Tyus Jones really hurt the Panthers scoring 22 points with 4 three pointers on 6 attempts.
The Panthers did get a very nice performance from Jamel Artis who scored a career high 21. Artis has quietly averaged 18 points a game over his last three games. Chris Jones also played well again scoring 13 points on 6-9 shooting. James Robinson and Cameron Wright struggled badly and ended the game with 6 points combined. Michael Young contributed 11 points.
There is not much to take from this game really. Duke is a legitimate final 4 team and Pitt is just, well Pitt is not. The Panthers do not have the talent to compete with top level teams at this time. It is encouraging that the Panthers have played with more effort and toughness over the past few games. It is nice to see Jamel Artis and Chris Jones starting to develop as scoring threats. The Panthers need much more from their backcourt especially James Robinson. Jamie Dixon is doing a nice job coaching this team but Jamie has to look in the mirror at himself to blame for the roster that he has.
The win for Duke gave Coach K win #999
Pitt plays #10 Louisville at the Pete on Sunday
Pitt shot 12 free throws to Duke’s 25