Pitt dropped their first game of the season to the Mustangs of SMU by a score of 76-67. The Panthers were led offensively by seniors Michael Young and Jamel Artis, who finished with 22 and 20 respectively. Cameron Johnson contributed nine, and Ryan Luther chipped in seven off the bench.
The first half proved to be a game of runs, as both teams extended large leads only to have them disappear minutes later. Pitt had the final run of the first half with a 13-0 burst to take a 33-31 halftime lead.
The second half seemed to go in favor of the Mustangs rather quickly. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye finished with a game-high 24 points, as Pitt had no answer for the 6’7” forward. SMU benefited from many second chance points, as they finished 14 offensive rebounds, and out-rebounded the Panthers overall 40-27. Pitt hung around throughout the game, but SMU certainly had the upper hand.
Pitt did show some signs of competence, but did not play a complete game by any stretch. Pitt’s run at the end of the first half was fueled by moving from a man defense to a 3-2 zone. It confused SMU, and slowed the pace of the game down for the Panthers. If there’s one takeaway, a zone defense looks like Pitt’s best bet to slow teams down. It has holes, but it can still be effective.
Mike Young and Jamel Artis both posted big numbers and made tons of impressive plays, but they combined for seven turnovers. Artis also was a part of a double-technical. It’s things like that you would hope your seniors could avoid in big games.
Chris Jones was, for the most part, non-existent and finished scoreless. Sheldon Jeter finished with five points and nine rebounds, but seemed out of sync throughout much of the contest. Cameron Johnson did hit three three-pointers, but they were all early in the game, and he disappeared at times.
Pitt only went eight deep, and of the bench players, it was Ryan Luther leading the way. Although the junior forward fouled out in limited minutes, he posted seven points and was 3-3 from the field. Justice Kithcart played significant minutes and finished with a modest four points and one assist.
It’s still early, but this team has some deficiencies. Some they can correct, some they cannot. They will look to rebound and salvage this road trip tomorrow with either Marquette and Michigan.