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Artis’ career-high 43 points not enough in Pitt’s 85-80 loss at Louisville

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Pitt senior point guard Jamel Artis scored a career-high 43 points in an 85-80 loss at Louisville, the Panthers' first 40-point game in almost 20 years. Meghan Sunners | Asst. Visual Editor

Pitt senior point guard Jamel Artis scored a career-high 43 points in an 85-80 loss at Louisville, the Panthers' first 40-point game in almost 20 years. Meghan Sunners | Asst. Visual Editor

Pitt senior point guard Jamel Artis scored a career-high 43 points in an 85-80 loss at Louisville, the Panthers' first 40-point game in almost 20 years. Meghan Sunners | Asst. Visual Editor

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

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Pitt senior point guard Jamel Artis nearly had a record-setting night Wednesday. If he had just a bit more help from his teammates, his historic performance would also have been enough to pull of a win.

Artis racked up a career-high 43 points on only 22 shots, going 15-for-22 from the field and 7-for-13 from the 3-point line. His performance marked the second-highest point total in school history, as well as the Panthers’ first 40-point game since Jason Maile dropped 40 on Villanova in February 1997.

But it wasn’t enough, as the rest of his Pitt teammates combined to score only 37 points on 11-of-36 shooting in an 85-80 defeat.

For most of the night, the Panthers (12-5 overall, 1-3 ACC) appeared to be headed for their second straight blowout loss. They entered the game having lost eight straight games against Louisville (14-3 overall, 2-2 ACC), dating back to an 82-77 overtime win on Jan. 16, 2010.

When they fell behind by 20 in the first half, a ninth straight defeat seemed imminent. And when that deficit grew to 26 early in the second half, it seemed inevitable.

But Artis singlehandedly made it into a competitive game, as he led the comeback charge for Pitt with a barrage of 3-pointers and 3-point plays on tough, contested layups. The Panthers cut the gap to five with 44 seconds left, but that was as close as they would come.

Although the start of the game was promising for Pitt, the Cardinals quickly took control with a dominant first half.

The Panthers came out determined to shoot the 3-pointer, with Artis draining his first attempt of the night to give them a 3-2 lead. They missed their next two attempts from deep, but Artis added a pair of jumpers to give Pitt a 7-4 lead less than five minutes into the game.

Louisville scored 10 of the next 11 points before a dunk by sophomore guard Cameron Johnson temporarily stopped the Cardinals’ run. Louisville then added a 3-pointer by guard Donovan Mitchell to take a 17-10 lead into the second media timeout.

The Panthers continued to fire up 3-pointers to no avail, missing seven in a row from downtown after Artis’ opening shot. Meanwhile, the Cardinals caught fire from deep, as guard Quentin Snider drained back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 24-11 Louisville.

The Cardinals then added a 3-point play from center Mangok Mathiang to stretch their lead to 16 midway through the first half.

Senior forward Sheldon Jeter hit a pair of 3-pointers for Pitt, but the Panthers couldn’t come up with a stop on defense and struggled just to pull down a rebound. The Cardinals stayed hot from beyond the arc, shooting 71.4 percent from 3-point range en route to a 47-26 halftime lead.

Pitt’s lack of a true big man played a key role in the first half, as Louisville outrebounded the Panthers 22-14 and scored 12 second-chance points to only six for Pitt.

The Cardinals then scored the first five points out of the break to build their largest lead of the night at 52-26. The Panthers put together a brief 9-0 run, but Snider nailed a 3-pointer to silence Pitt’s momentum and make it a 20-point game again. Louisville forward Jaylen Johnson then added a tip-in and a layup to make it 59-35 with 13:56 to play.

The Panthers received a 3-point play from Artis and a 3-pointer from senior forward Michael Young to cut the gap to 18, then Young buried another three to make it 61-44 with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Pitt narrowed the deficit to 14 at 63-49, but a defensive breakdown led to an uncontested dunk for the Cardinals. Louisville forward Deng Adel followed with a layup to make it 67-49 at the under-eight media timeout.

Just as they did while trying to surmount a 28-point deficit Saturday against Syracuse, the Panthers kept fighting through the beatdown. This time, they almost pulled off the comeback, putting together a 15-4 run to shrink the Cardinals’ lead to single digits at 71-64 with 3:15 to play.

But mistakes and missed free throws continued to plague them in the final minutes, and the 26-point deficit proved too much to overcome as Louisville pulled out the 85-80 win. Despite his late threes, Young was the main culprit, as he couldn’t seem to find a rhythm for the second game in a row.

Young tallied 17 points against Syracuse, but nine of those came in the final six minutes with the game already out of reach. This time, Young — the ACC’s leading scorer at 22.3 points per game entering the matchup — again finished with 17 points, but was only 5-of-14 from the field and an abysmal 4-of-11 from the foul line.

Not surprisingly, both games resulted in losses for the Panthers.

Pitt will return home to the Petersen Events Center coming off back-to-back setbacks to host the Miami Hurricanes at noon Saturday, Jan. 14.

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Artis’ career-high 43 points not enough in Pitt’s 85-80 loss at Louisville