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Young playing up to bigger competition - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Young playing up to bigger competition

By Dan Sostek / Assistant Sports Editor

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At 6-foot-9, Michael Young is a large human being by most standards.

But on the basketball court, Pitt’s sophomore center seems tiny, constantly going up against behemoths one to four inches taller than him.

This was the case on Tuesday evening against Boston College, when Young faced 7-foot Dennis Clifford.

Despite occasionally struggling against taller defenders, the matchup heavily favored the Pitt center, who exploded for 22 points and nine rebounds in Pitt’s 71-65 victory over the Eagles.

“He presented a lot of issues. He’s one of my favorite post players because he works every possession,” Boston College head coach Jim Christian said of Young after the game. “He was aggressive right from the beginning. They went right to him in the first possession. He attacks from the perimeter and post very well.”

As Christian said, the Panthers looked to Young early in the game. After missing his first shot of the game, he answered a 3-pointer by junior guard Olivier Hanlan (one of the junior’s five long-distance makes) with a powerful post-up of Clifford.

Still, Young finished the first half with a modest eight points, not asserting himself the way the team would have liked.

But in the second half, a 5-0 run by the Eagles tied the game at 35. Following a Jamie Dixon timeout, Young became a force in the paint.

Young proceeded to tally 14 points in the half, going 8-11 from the free throw line and bringing in six rebounds as well.

“Coach [Jamie Dixon] is always saying to get it inside, and let’s play inside out,” Young said. “If they can get it to me and let me make a play, and then if they double down, make a read, and then if not go score. For the most part, we were trying to get it down to either me or Jamel [Artis]. It wasn’t just for me.”

The Panthers got the ball to Artis frequently, paving the way to a 24 point, eight rebound performance for the sophomore forward.

Artis knew that the Panthers needed a big performance from the two sophomore post players, particularly after the team’s nail biting overtime victory against the Eagles earlier this year in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

“We wanted to come out here and be more aggressive — rebound, play defense, score,” Artis said. “Our team looked for us a lot so we tried to be strong this second game.”

Not only did the Panthers receive tremendous offensive performances down low, but Young and Artis also thwarted any opportunities in the paint for the Eagles’ big men. The only point that a Boston College post player scored on Tuesday came from Clifford, and that bucket came via jump shot.

Young and Artis, Pitt’s two leading scorers, must continue their production if the team hopes to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament for the 12th time in 13 years, as the Panthers can’t afford many missteps with their 8-7 ACC record.

Their next matchup is on Sunday, as the Panthers travel to Wake Forest to take on the Demon Deacons. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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Young playing up to bigger competition