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Pitt falls to Duke 79-65

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The Panthers battled Duke hard in the second half, but ultimately fell short.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Krzyzewski won his 999th career game as Duke defeated Pitt by a score of 79-65. The Panthers managed to outscore Duke in the second half 40-38, but it was not nearly enough for Pitt to upset the fifth ranked Duke Blue Devils.  Duke shooters combined to knock down 11 three-pointers and and hit 80% of their free-throws and managed to build a second half lead as high as 21 points and eventually they held off a late push by the scrappy Pitt Panthers who managed to work the score down to a ten point deficit with two minutes to go with the ball.

Duke was paced by a talented true freshmen not named Jahlil Okafor, as point guard Tyus Jones poured in 22 points and four assists. Okafor had a quiet game by his standards, but still posted 14 points, three rebounds, and a career-high five assists. Okafor still played a big role in drawing double teams and allowing Duke three-point shooters to hit some wide open shots, including seven in the first half, which allowed the Devils to build a 41-25 halftime lead.  Duke also received a solid 13 points from Rasheed Sulaimon off the bench, and senior Quinn Cook also got into double figures with 11 points.

Pitt received a career performance from sophomore forward Jamel Artis.  He scored 21 points which is one point more than his old career high that he posted on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Artis also posted 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a losing effort. Chris Jones chipped in 13 while Mike Young scored 11 points in a game in which he struggled mightily in the first half. James Robinson and Cameron Wright had a poor combined effort with only six points between the two of them.  Josh Newkirk had his good and bad moments including a highlight reel dunk and he finished with eight points.

All in all, Pitt's same woes continued to haunt them. The Panthers were out-shot from behind the three point line, as they only went 3-10 from deep. They were out-rebounded by a more athletic team, and they turned the ball over at inopportune times. Despite all that, Pitt hung around and battled until the very end.  Pitt did outscore the Blue Devils in the second half and battled it down to a ten point game after falling behind by 21.

Did Pitt play great?  No they did not, and that may be the most positive thing you can take from this game if you are a Panther fan.  They fell behind big early in the game, but showed a lot of effort to keep playing hard and put a tiny scare into Duke. Does Pitt have a great chance at knocking off tenth ranked Louisville on Sunday? Probably not, but if they play with some intensity and the crowd gets into it, this effort has to be somewhat encouraging.