Late 22-2 run guides No. 9 Louisville over Pitt

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

A late offensive drought doomed Pitt men’s basketball at Louisville on Wednesday night.

The Panthers (16-9, 5-6 ACC) hung with the No. 9 Cardinals early, leading as late as midway through the second half, but Louisville used an extended 22-2 run over an eight-minute span to seal the 69-56 win for the home team.

Both teams started out playing aggressive defense, forcing awkward shots and live-ball turnovers. The teams combined for 20 total turnovers.

Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon went unexpectedly deep into his bench early, inserting redshirt junior guard Mike Lecak and senior center Derrick Randall at the same time. Sophomores Sheldon Jeter and Josh Newkirk got into early foul trouble about midway through the first half, picking up two apiece.

With senior guard Cameron Wright sidelined with an ankle injury, Dixon had fewer options than usual.

Lecak played 10 minutes, missed his only shot attempt and grabbed three rebounds.

After Pitt tied the game late in the first half, Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell scored six straight points for the Cardinals to regain the lead for the home team.

After shooting only 31 percent in the first half, Pitt trailed 27-22. Harrell dominated early, despite Pitt trying to use several different defenders on him, heading into the half with a game-high 14 points. He finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Louisville (20-4, 8-3 ACC) seemed content to keep the ball in the paint near the hoop, as the team only attempted four 3-point shots and missed all of them. Most of that inside scoring came from Harrell, who recorded his 21st career double-double.

Pitt finished the game shooting 38 percent from the field and struggled from the free-throw line, shooting only 57 percent.

Pitt took its first lead of the game just under 18 minutes in the second half, with two forward Michael Young free throws as part of an 10-0 scoring run.

Pitt held that lead until 9:14 in the second half, when Louisville sophomore guard Terry Rozier made a fast-break layup to give his team a 47-45 lead.

Pitt just couldn’t recover from Louisville’s constant pressure, scoring two points over 10:38 to fall into an insurmountable hole. The Cardinals rank first in the ACC in blocks and steals per game, averaging 5.7 and 9.0, respectively. Sophomore forward Jamel Artis, who led Pitt in scoring in each of the last seven games, snapped that streak on Wednesday night, scoring 15 points. Young led the Panthers with 16 points.

Pitt next returns to the Petersen Events Center to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. The game is scheduled to tip off at noon.