The clock struck midnight on Sideline Cancer’s Cinderella run in The Basketball Tournament on Tuesday night, as the 22nd-seeded underdogs fell to the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles 78-73 in the championship. However, it was still an impressive night for Pitt alum Jamel Artis, as he had his best game of the tournament.
All told, Artis came up with a game-high six rebounds and scored 17 points in the deciding game of the Columbus-based event. The former Panther’s point total was second only to Sideline Cancer star Maurice Creek’s, as Creek had 20 points, and the Golden Eagles were paced by Jamil Wilson, who scored 16.
Coming into the title game, Artis’ highest TBT point total was eight points against Challenge ALS on July 7, and he was better known for his rebounding and defensive contributions. However, his breakout game came at an opportune time for the purple-clad team, as Marcus Keene found himself in a rut. Prior to the championship, Keene was averaging 20 points per game, but three quarters into the matchup with the Golden Eagles, he had three. Keene would finish with six points.
Even aside from Keene’s performance, Sideline Cancer had much to overcome, as the team got off to a sloppy start early in the game and ended up playing catch-up for much of the first quarter. Artis and company would come out of the first frame with a 23-22 lead despite some disjointed play, but the Golden Eagles were with them every step of the way after that. Going into the Elam Ending, the two teams were tied at 70. And in the final few minutes of play, Sideline Cancer faltered defensively, and that proved to be the team’s undoing.
Even though it ended in disappointment, Artis’ run in the tournament was one of the best ever by a Pitt alum. In fact, the only former Panther to do better in The Basketball Tournament was DeJuan Blair, who won a title with Overseas Elite in 2017. Should Artis play in future editions of TBT — and at 27 years old, he may well — a title of his own would not be out of the question, as he and Sideline Cancer proved they can play with the best of the best during their memorable run.