Pitt beats Eastern Michigan 93-90 in 2OT in Stallings’ debut
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jamel Artis scored 27 points and head coach Kevin Stallings survived a season-opening scare in his Pittsburgh debut, beating Eastern Michigan 93-90 in double overtime Friday night.
The Panthers led all of regulation but were unable to put away the Eagles. Sheldon Jeter’s jumper and some clutch free-throw shooting in double overtime sealed the win for Pitt.
The 6-foot-7 Artis made 11 of 12 free throws and started a new role under Stallings as a point guard. While the move was an offensive success, it remains a work in progress defensively.
“We played very hard, but sometimes we were over-aggressive and we tended to let guys drive,” Artis said. “We have to know to send guys to the help side.”
Michael Young put up 26 points and 10 rebounds, including a crucial offensive rebound late. Jeter finished with 12 points.
Eastern Michigan did most of its damage inside. Tim Bond had 21 points as the Eagles outscored Pitt in the paint 48-20. James Thompson IV had eight points and 13 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass. Bond and Thompson fouled out early in overtime, as Eastern Michigan committed 30 fouls and let Pitt get to the line 45 times.
The Eagles knew that opening the season on the road in a tough venue would be a challenge, but head coach Rob Murphy was impressed with the way his team battled back from a deficit to tie the game late.
“Our guys showed us that anybody we play, we’ll have an opportunity,” he said. “Whether we’re going to close the door or not, that’s something that we have to learn to do.”
Pitt had trouble defensively all night and allowed Eastern Michigan to shoot 42.9 percent from the floor. Needing some stops in double overtime, Stallings switched to a zone and Pitt forced five straight misses while building a two-possession lead.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Young had a career-high seven turnovers, with three of them coming in a one-minute span in the second half. Young’s turnovers were part of a 10-0 Eastern Michigan run that closed Pitt’s largest lead of the game to a 2-point margin.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles were selected to finish first in the MAC West division and they showed why, giving the Panthers a stern defensive test with their 2-3 zone. The Eagles forced Pitt to take 33 3-pointers and more contested jump shots. The Eagles held Pitt to 39.7 percent shooting on the night.
Pitt: Stallings used the nonconference game to work out his rotation. Ryan Luther was the first man off the bench, getting 18 minutes. Freshman Justice Kithcart played 27 minutes due to Cameron Johnson’s foul trouble and seems to be the preferred option in the backcourt. Jonathan Milligan also saw significant time, while Damon Wilson played just 2 minutes.
Both teams will continue playing in the 2K Classic tournament, with Pitt hosting Gardner-Webb Monday night and Eastern Michigan visiting Southern Methodist Sunday. The championship rounds are in New York, Nov. 17 and 18.