Jamel Artis made it a point to be aggressive right from the opening tip.
That strategy paid off in a big way as Artis scored 21 points- 18 in the first half- as the Panthers rolled over the visiting Cornell Big Red Bears 93-49 Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Artis made 6-of-11 field goal attempts to pace the Panthers, who shot 52 percent from the floor. The junior forward also chipped in five rebounds and four assists on the night. Junior Michael Young also filled the stat sheet for the Panthers, chipping in 12 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
“I just like to be aggressive,” said Artis. “That’s my mentality every game. I came out that way and found the gaps in the defense and took advantage of it. I knocked down some shots and found my teammates for open looks also.”
Pitt (3-0) jumped out 12-2 by the first media timeout and the rout was on from there.
The Big Red Bears, who started 0-for-11 from the floor, got as close as 16-10 in the first half on the back of a couple of long three-pointers from Jo Jo Fallas, but Cornell showed early on that they were overmatched.
The Panthers eventually led by as many as 28 in the first half and took a 46-19 lead into the locker room at the half.
“Very happy with our performance,” said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. “It was a good job all the way around top to bottom, starters to reserves. Unselfish all the way through.”
The second half began in similar fashion to the way the first half ended as the Panthers stretched their lead to as many as 48.
Cornell struggled from the floor all night long, digging themselves a big hole by making just 7-of-33 (27 percent) of their field goal attempts in the first half. Their starting five combined to go 1-for 22 from the floor in the first half. On the night the Big Red Bears shot just 30 percent from the floor.
“We knew they had some guards that could shoot the basketball,” said Dixon. “Our goal was to keep them contained and I was real happy with our performance.”
Meanwhile for the third consecutive game, the Pitt bench proved to be very productive.
Chris Jones led the way with 15 points off the bench- 12 in the first half- and Damon Wilson added 10 as the Panthers bench outscored that of Cornell 45-31.
“We have a lot of guys that can come off the bench,” said Jones. “We are doing a good job. We have guys that can come in and play good defense and be energy guys and shoot the ball well. I think the bench is doing a good job of following up the starting five.”
Pitt had success from behind the arc as well, knocking down 10-of-21 attempts on the night. Jones and Sterling Smith each knocked down three shots from three-point range.
“We are all good shooters,” said Artis. ‘When the defense collapses we just kick it out to the open man. We have confidence in all our guys to shoot the ball well. Guys shoot it with confidence and we shot it great tonight.”
Cornell (3-3) was led in scoring by Fallas who finished with nine points.
“They are a good team,” said Cornell head coach Bill Courtney. “We are a young team and aren’t ready to compete with a team like Pitt. “We fell behind big early and rally didn’t have a chance to come back. From our perspective it looks like they are playing Pitt defense again.”
The Panthers will be back in action on Saturday when they play host to Kent State.
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