PITTSBURGH (AP) In a contest featuring 10 ties and seven lead changes with no clear momentum shifts, Pittsburgh began to edge away on a Jamel Artis three-point play with 6:23 remaining.
After Georgia Tech’s Robert Sampson and Marcus Georges-Hunt tied the game on back-to-back scores with 6:40 to play, Pitt made its move with a defensive switch. The Panthers allowed just two points in the next five minutes to take control and beat Georgia Tech 70-65 Saturday.
Artis and Cameron Wright led all scorers with 20 points apiece and Michael Young added 16 for Pitt (13-5, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Sampson led Georgia Tech (9-8, 0-5) with 16 points, Georges-Hunt scored 13 and Charles Mitchell and Quinton Stephens each had 10.
The defensive effort was a result of an adjustment made by head coach Jamie Dixon as his team switched into a man-to-man defense.
”We got out of that zone,” Dixon said. ”I think the zone’s a good changeup for this team but it’s not our defense.”
While zone defenses usually prevent penetration, the Panthers’ man look kept the Yellow Jackets out of the paint where they’re most effective.
”They were not able to get the ball inside as easily and that was big,” Dixon said. ”We got some turnovers too.”
Georgia Tech finished with 15 turnovers, with many coming at inopportune moments in the eyes of head coach Brian Gregory.
”Unfortunately you can’t make those mistakes,” he said. ”What it does is it keeps putting so much pressure on your defense and on your defensive rebounding.”
A few of the turnovers were unforced and prevented the Yellow Jackets from utilizing their abilities on the offensive glass, where they recorded 16 offensive rebounds Saturday.
”We just weren’t able to make a couple plays down the stretch there,” Gregory said.
The Yellow Jackets were scoreless for 5:12 before Charles Mitchell made two free throws with 1:12 left in the game.
Young said the Panthers took care of the ball in that span and were able to shut Georgia Tech down by ”just being solid” and could play defense on the interior.
”They really didn’t have a lot of shooters on the floor so we didn’t really have to pressure them out past the 3-point line,” he said.
Pitt seemed to take control in the first half and took a nine-point lead with 8:29 to play in the period.
Georgia Tech responded with a 13-4 run and the teams went into the halftime break tied at 31. The Yellow Jackets only made seven field goals and shot 37.5 percent but converted 11-of-13 free throws to stay in the game.
Georgia Tech shot 39.6 percent for the game while the Panthers connected on 43.6 percent of field goals.
After shooting 0-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half, Wright and Artis made 3s for the Panthers to start the second half.
The Yellow Jackets later took a four-point lead on a 3-pointer by Travis Jorgensen, 46-42, with 13:20 to play for their largest advantage of the game.
Pitt tied the game on a layup from Young with 9:21 left and did not trail again.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have lost five games in a row to start conference play and haven’t won since beating Charlotte 67-66 on Dec. 30.
Pittsburgh: Jamel Artis scored 20 points to tie his career-high in scoring. It was his second 20-point game after scoring 20 in Pitt’s win over Manhattan Dec. 17.
SHARING THE WEALTH
Cameron Wright and Jamel Artis both scored 20 points, but gave credit to their teammates for setting them up.
Wright: ”My teammates did a great job finding me. I couldn’t have done it without them. They delivered the passes on time, they did everything I could’ve asked them to do and that’s why I love them.”
Artis: ”I think my teammates found me on offense and I made shots. When I’m making shots I can find open people and that’s what helped us.”
Pitt finished with 17 assists on 24 made field goals.
Georgia Tech plays at No. 2 Virginia Thursday.
Pittsburgh plays at No. 4 Duke Monday.