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Ryan Luther earning playing time for Pitt with solid performances

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt big man Ryan Luther frustrated some fans with his play at times early in the season. Poor plays would follow good ones and vice versa. But there's no question that he is starting to come into his own and has become one of the team's better bench players.

Some even argue that he could be starting in place of starting center Rafael Maia, who has seen his minutes shrink.

Luther has received at least ten minutes per game over the past ten contests and lately, he's playing significantly more than that. He's earned that time, too.

Over that stretch, he is averaging seven points a game. Luther saved arguably his best game as a Panther for Louisville on Wednesday when he had a career-best 17 points to go along with five rebounds, a block, and a steal. Earlier this season, he had 15 points and 11 rebounds against Detroit but given the level of competition, his game against the Cardinals was something special.

While the Louisville one may be his best game, he's also showed up other times as well. Against No. 12 Miami, he scored 12 points on an efficient 5-6 shooting with seven rebounds. That efficient night was nothing new to Luther. On the season, he's shooting 59% from the field, which easily leads the team (Michael Young and Jamel Artis are next up among regulars, shooting 53%).

Just as great as the raw statistical stuff is that Luther just works and works. A game rarely goes by where he doesn't have hustle plays and he had several more in the Louisville game. He's a guy that will go out and give a complete effort and still show up in the box score with tangible numbers.

Let's be clear here. Luther isn't a star and several players are more important to whatever it is that Pitt accomplishes this season. But what he has given the team is an incredible presence off the bench and, even more importantly, a key piece for next year's team.

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