After a day filled with Pitt football news, Narduzzi news specifically, there was a basketball game played in Oakland tonight.
Pitt used a deep bench, rebounding and disciplined defense to stifle an undersized Holy Cross team in route to a 58-39 win on Tuesday night. The Panthers held the Crusaders to a measly 30 percent shooting, while limiting them to the fewest total points scored by any Pitt opponent this season.
"We had a couple quality looks but they did force us into some bad shots as well," Holy Cross coach Milan Brown said. "Some of the times because of their length and athleticism and their size open looks turned into contested ones. It’s tough."
The Panthers out-rebounded Holy Cross 45-25, securing more rebounds than the Crusaders had points in what looked like the traditional Pitt basketball that fans have grown used to seeing at this time of the year.
"I think we executed more down the stretch," sophomore forward Jamel Artis said. "That is what we (are) supposed to do. Non-conference games, come out, execute well on offense and defense."
Artis contributed 13 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers and is seemingly getting more and more comfortable being a leader on the team as the season goes on.
"It was good to see him on the glass, there are things that he can improve on," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "He had to do a lot of things defensively, they are hard to guard to with so many ball-screens…He did a good job in that area, just trying to get him to be more vocal and more of a presence in what he does."
Foul trouble limited Mike Young’s minutes against Holy Cross, but it did not limit his offensive abilities. The sophomore forward contributed 13 points in just 19 minutes of play. A far-cry from the game against Oakland in which Young played for a team-high 41 minutes.
Young’s foul trouble also allowed Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to get more players involved in the game. One of his biggest challenges thus far is trying to find the right chemistry of players on the floor.
"Got some guys some minutes, that was important I thought," Dixon said. "Kept our minutes low and I think that is something that helped our defense as well. It’s five straight (wins) with Cameron with us…Mike Could’ve played some more minutes but want to get Joe and Derrick some (time)."
As opposed to the Panthers last game against Oakland, in which center Joe Uchebo did not see the floor, the 6-foot-10 junior played an increased 14 minutes in which he took advantage of the opportunity by contributing six points.
Holy Family was led by seniors Malcolm Miller and Justin Burrell who were the only two Crusaders to record more than five points. Miller chimed in 11 points while Burrell scored eight points.
They just could not get much together offensively, especially with the huge mismatch in size between them and Pitt.
"From here on out I don’t have to play anyone that looks like this," Brown said. "And if we do that means y’all will be watching me on CBS because we are in the NCAA tournament."
Holy Cross is predicted to finish well in the Patriot League, another non-conference opponent for Pitt that has the potential to make a tournament run.
Pitt will next be in action after a holiday break when they host "Dunk City," also known as Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday, December 30. FGCU is 9-3 this season with a game against Xavier on Sunday before they travel to Pitt. This will be the final "tune-up" for Dixon and the Panthers before they move on to the daunting ACC schedule.
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