AP NEWS

Artis nets 31 points as Pittsburgh beats Rice, 83-73

December 18, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jamel Artis scored a season-high 31 points as Pittsburgh survived 18 turnovers to hold off Rice, 83-73, Saturday night.

Artis hit 10 of 14 from the floor and also contributed 7 of 9 from the free-throw line for his best performance since scoring 32 against Bryant in 2015. Bench forward Ryan Luther also had a big game for Pitt (9-2), scoring 20 points to set a career high and leading the team with seven rebounds.

“I just tried to come out aggressive,” Luther said. “Obviously, every night, people are going to be drawn to Jamel and (Michael Young). My teammates did a good job finding me.”

Rice (8-3) got big production from the backcourt, as Marcus Jackson scored 20 and Marcus Evans had 19. The Owls shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range but just 42.9 percent overall and were outscored in the paint, 28-26.

The big reason the Owls were able to keep the game close was an aggressive defense that got eight steals from five different players and also drew several offensive fouls.

BIG PICTURE

Pitt: With the Panthers having allowed big nights from opposing forwards in two straight games and Rice’s Egor Koulechov coming in averaging 19.4 points per game, the Russian seemed primed to have a big night. But Pitt was able to contain him for 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Artis said Pitt was focused on defending Koulechov, especially at the 3-point line, where he went 1 for 4.

Rice: The Owls have played just two major-conference opponents this season, and both were close games down the stretch. They lost, 85-84 to Texas Tech earlier this month. These two games show the potential of the young Owls, who feature just one senior and three juniors. Head coach Mike Rhoads was pleased that his team didn’t back down on the road.

“I’m going to recruit guys with edges that think they can come to Pitt and win the game,” Rhoads said. “With 2:30 left, we still felt we were going to win the game. That’s never going to change.”

TURNING POINT

The Owls used five consecutive Pitt turnovers to go on a 9-0 run and tie the game at 50-50 with 11:48 to play, but it was Artis who came through for Pitt with a big 3-pointer to break the run, then added a layup on the following possession to re-build a five point lead for the Panthers.

STAR WATCH

Rice was able to contain Young, who has led Pitt in scoring in nine of the team’s 10 games coming in, but finished with just 12 points.

“They were all packed in,” head coach Kevin Stallings said. “It was like four guys were in the lane, one guy was sort of near the ball and whenever Mike got it, it was just a crowd.”

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Rice shot 56.5 percent from the free-throw line with Evans, who is a 78.6 career free-throw shooter, going 8 of 14.

UP NEXT

Pitt: Continues a season-long five-game home stand with a visit from Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday. The Panthers have won seven straight home games dating back to last season.

Rice: Returns home to face Northwestern (La.) State on Monday. The Owls are 4-1 at home this season.