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No. 24 Pitt wins high-flying battle over Georgia Tech

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Jamel Artis and James Robinson combined for 36 points and 13 assists as No. 24 Pitt shot lights out from the free throw line to beat Georgia Tech 89-84 Wednesday night in Oakland.

PITTSBURGH - Artis and Robinson each scored 18 points. Robinson added 8 assists and 4 rebounds, while Artis had 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Michael Young added 17 points in 18 minutes as Pitt (13-1) moved to 2-0 in ACC play with the win.

Rafael Maia also had a big game on the boards with 12 rebounds in 32 minutes.

“At times I thought he (Maia) was tired,” Jamie Dixon said. “He was the best post defender for us tonight.”

The win was Pitt’s ninth straight.

The key for both teams was obvious before opening tip—rebounding. Both Pitt and Georgia Tech had only been beaten on the boards in two games all season.

The Yellow Jackets are led by Maryland-transfer Charles Mitchell, the leading rebounder in the ACC with 11.2 per game. While Pitt could not contain Mitchell as he finished with 20 points and 18 boards, Georgia Tech’s 38-34 rebounding differential was not significant enough to give the Jackets a distinct advantage.

“He’s a really good player, he’s really physical,” Maia said. “Obviously it’s a tough matchup.”

Pitt jumped to an early 21-9 lead with 12 minutes left in the half. Sensing the danger in the increasing first half deficit, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory called a timeout hoping to stifle Pitt’s hot shooting.

“They really did a good job on offense as far as their efficiency,” Gregory said. “You get to a point where we had to score on every play.”

The Yellow Jackets were helped by two early foul calls on Young. With over ten minutes remaining in this play’s first installment, Pitt would have to maintain their advantage without their lead actor.

Without Young on the floor the Panthers struggled offensively. After a few tedious foul calls, Dixon voiced his frustration to the referees and received a technical. Just like that, Pitt’s lead was trimmed to 2.

That answer came from Robinson, who put together his own 7-0 scoring run to extend the Panthers’ advantage back to double digits.

“He’s one of the most underrated guard in the country,” Gregory said of Robinson. “He looks like he’s been here for 14 years.”

Dixon has encouraged his point guard to call his own number more frequently this year, and the senior has picked key spots to showcase his scoring ability.

“He’s been good for us and now he’s playing great for us,” Dixon said. “He’s shooting the ball better, and that opens up a lot of things for us.”

Pitt ended the half with a 42-36 point lead on 62 percent shooting. Georgia Tech cut into what had previously been a double-digit deficit with several key second chance opportunities off of offensive rebounds.

The second half began as the first ended, with the Jackets winning the battle on the offensive glass. Mitchell notched his eleventh double-double of the season with more than 12 minutes to play.

The officiating crew once again dictated the pace of play. As the whistles became more frequent, the Zoo faithful voiced their displeasure, especially after Young picked up his third.

“For us, we think we never foul, and they probably think they never foul,” Robinson said. “We can’t get caught up in that.”

Pitt was the first team to reach the bonus with 10 minutes remaining, and Georgia Tech soon followed.

Pitt and Georgia Tech both made 49 percent of their attempts from the field, but free throw shooting once again proved key for the Panthers, who have proved themselves elite from the line.

“It’s always good when you can close a game out on the line,” Robinson said. “A lot of guys stepped up.”Pitt basketball

The Panthers made 25 of their 30 attempts from the charity stripe, and were able to put the game away down the stretch despite a late scare by the Jackets and Adam Smith, a Virginia Tech transfer who finished with 30 points.

Pitt will look to extend their winning streak to 10 games when they travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Georgia Tech at Pitt

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