The Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball team got a much-needed win over the University of Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday night, especially after Pitt failed to defeat the Duquesne Dukes in the “City Game.” The Panthers beat the Bulls, 84-79.
But the game shouldn’t have been nearly as close as it was at the end. Pitt once held a 26-point lead, and the team was up 30-6 at one point. At another point, the Panthers were up 47-21 before the Bulls outscored the Panthers 58-37 over the rest of the game.
Despite the win against Buffalo, Panthers head coach Kevin Stallings hinted that there’s more to the Panthers’ game that needs improvement.
“It’s disappointing to me that, when you have a big lead, you’d like to put somebody away and put them out of their misery, but there is some component of our makeup that doesn’t allow for that yet,” Stallings said. “I am the one that is responsible for figuring that out and trying to change it if I can.”
The Panthers lead was due to all five starters — Michael Young, Sheldon Jeter, Chris Jones, Jamel Artis and Cameron Johnson — putting up double-digit points. Off the bench, only one player, Ryan Luther, put up points. He finished the night with double-digit points as well, scoring 11 points.
After the game, Jeter noted the team has to have confidence and give others the chance to score.
“We have to trust the offense and find the right shots,” said Jeter, a senior. “That is what we were doing earlier in the game; that is why we had such a big lead. If we trust the offense a lot more, I don’t see how six or seven guys can’t hit double figures a lot more.”
Buffalo’s Nick Perkins led the Bulls with 23 points. Scoring double-digit points were Blake Hamilton (18) and CJ Massinburg (14). Davonta Jordan led the team in assists (6), while Perkins led with rebounds (8).
“I thought our kids showed a lot of heart, fighting back, said Buffalo head coach Nate Oats. “You get down 26 to a team, you could just give up pretty easily.”
On defense for Pitt, Young and Luther both tied for the most rebounds with seven. Meanwhile, on offense, Johnson led the team in assists with five.
Wednesday, the Panthers celebrated the return of Artis, who scored 16 points. He also contributed three assists and five rebounds. Artis returned after missing the City Game due to a suspension.
“It was difficult to watch the game against a school that we’ve beaten for so many years,” Artis said. “It was a tough lesson. I learned that I’m pretty valuable to the team. There are other guys on the team that can step up and should have stepped up that night.”
Of Artis, Stallings said: “He had good practice sessions. I didn’t think he played very well. I thought he was loose with the ball for one of the first times all season and careless and casual. He made the biggest shot of the game, though. That is who he can be, he’s going to make big buckets for you. I love Jamel because he has a good heart, but I didn’t think he was as sharp as I thought he would be.”
The Panthers will return to the court Saturday to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. The game will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
For the Panthers’ players, the game is a must-win.
“It’s our neighbor. We have to win,” Artis said.