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Young leads potent Pitt offense as No. 24 Panthers hang on to win at Notre Dame

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Michael Young scored 25 points, Jamel Artis had 19 and Sheldon Jeter added 18 as No. 24 ‪Pitt‬ hung on to beat Notre Dame 86-82 in South Bend on Saturday.

These most certainly are not the same Pitt Panthers college basketball fans are accustomed to seeing. The 2015-16 team’s average of 85.3 points per game is almost 10 points higher than the best offensive year in the Jamie Dixon era (2008-09, 78 ppg).

And in its first true road test in the ACC season, Pitt lived up to its newfound explosive offensive tendencies – and then some. Still, their 86-82 win over the Fighting Irish will leave the newly ranked Panthers with many areas of improvement.

Pitt rolled out to a quick 13-0 lead to start the contest, connecting on its first six shots from the floor. Forwards Young and Artis handled the majority of the scoring for the Panthers and continued to dominate throughout the rest of the game.

Young consistently penetrated the defense and found openings in the offensive end in the first half, posting up down low and physically overpowering whoever the Irish threw his way – or he just spotted up from mid-range and knocked down the shot for good measure.

Young started the game 5-of-5 from the field, with he and Artis scoring 18 and 13 points respectively in the first half alone. Their combined 31 points fueled Pitt to a 49-43 lead going into the locker room.

Young finished with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, boasting an 11-of-14 mark from the charity stripe as well. Artis, not to be outdone, scored 19 after going 7-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

The Panthers let Notre Dame climb to within six after trailing by as many as 18 points midway through the half, however. Junior guard Demetrius Jackson nailed four consecutive 3-point shots during a two-minute stretch to fuel the run.

The second half brought much of the same plot line as the first: the Panthers used an early run to jump ahead by a wide margin, then began to miss shots and the Irish used 3-pointers and aggressive possessions to cut the deficit.

After stretching their second half lead to 18 points, 72-54, Notre Dame again used the deliberate Pitt offense to its advantage, climbing almost all the way back.

Led by Jackson and fellow guard Steve Vasturia, the Irish pulled to within two points with one minute to play in the game. This came despite senior center Zach Auguste fouling out of the game with five minutes left.

Clutch free throws from Young and James Robinson secured the victory inside Purcell Pavilion for Pitt as the Panthers earned their third ACC win of the season.

Notre Dame, after the loss, goes to 10-5 on the season, 1-2 in ACC play. Pitt now will take its 14-1 (3-0 ACC) record to Louisville to take on the 16th ranked Cardinals on Jan. 14.  

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