Things came right down to the wire, but in the end, Pitt held on for a close 75-70 win over Yale on Tuesday.
It was more of the same for Pitt in terms of Michael Young and Jamel Artis. The two combined for 44 points and Young in particular was just so dominant. In addition to his 24 points, his ten rebounds and four blocks were team-highs. These guys are the top two scorers in the ACC and when you have such a strong duo leading the way, they’re capable of big things.
Young and Artis aren’t just scoring, either. They’re doing so while hitting a high-percentage of their shots. Young is making close to 60% of his shots on the season while Artis is close to 50%. It would be one thing if they were scoring but not at an efficient rate. But both are doing a good job at getting high-percentage shots.
Three-pointers kept it close for Yale. They hit 11 of them to Pitt’s five and shot 41% from there. But the difference for Pitt, aside from what Young did individually, was at the free throw line. The Panthers shot 23 of them (making 18) while Yale was only 5-6. In a game played in the 70s, 13 points makes a world of difference.
At some point, you have to think Young will slow down a bit. But even when the team gets into conference play, I honestly don’t know how much his numbers will drop. He’s such a huge part of the team and if he continues getting 15 shots a night, it’s hard to see his numbers taking too big of a hit. Seeing him average 20 points a game this year would not be that much of a reach and Artis might not be too far behind, either.
Pitt could use a third guy contributing, whether it’s Cam Johnson, Sheldon Jeter, or Ryan Luther. Tonight, it was Johnson, who had 15 after a run of three-pointers in the second half. As long as Pitt gets a third scorer in the mix to go along with Young and Artis, they should be competitive. Look at the lone loss against SMU, for example. Pitt failed to get a third guy in double figures in scoring and fell short. A third scorer is key for the team.
No, the bench didn’t give Pitt much again. But to be honest, if the starters are playing well enough, that’s mostly a non-factor right now. Where it becomes an issue is if those guys don’t play much and then are thrust into action for extended time due to an injury or foul issues. You want to get those guys regular minutes but you also have to play your best players, so it’s a balancing act of sorts.
Overall, a quality game for Pitt. Despite getting routed by Virginia the other night, I think Yale will turn out to be a decent team. The Panthers can’t really afford to lose too many of these types of games when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament. Solid but not outstanding opponent and at home, you’ve got to win these.