For most of tonight's game against Rice, it was a two-man game on offense for the Panthers. That's not a surprise since it's been the case all year long, but it was the players that was significant.
Jamel Artis led the team with 31 points but backing up him was Ryan Luther. Luther came off the bench to score 20 points, which was a new career high. Michael Young had a decent game, but was more in the background than we're used to seeing. He also turned the ball over five times and finished with a modest 12 points and four rebounds.
Artis himself nearly had a career high (barely missing it - his career high is 32 points) and it was obviously one of the better games of his career. Having two stars who can score is a huge benefit to the team for nights like this one. With Young doing less, the Panthers were fortunate to have Artis step up in addition to Luther's big game.
Pitt again had trouble shaking a non-conference foe on Saturday. As I mentioned in the gamethread, that isn't necessarily to be unexpected, though. Rice is a solid team and was 8-2 coming into the game with both losses decided by a total of four points. One of those losses was a one-point loss to Texas Tech on the road, so you knew they could play a little.
I think this will end up looking like a solid win for Pitt by the end of the year and I wouldn't be surprised if Rice won 20 games this year. They should be plenty good in Conference USA this season.
One thing that Pitt didn't do well tonight was take care of the ball and that helped keep things close. The Panthers had 18 turnovers and if you're looking for a reason they couldn't put it away sooner, that was probably the biggest.
Next up for Pitt is a game Wednesday against Omaha.