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Artis' career high not enough for Panthers to overcome Louisville

| Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, 9:33 p.m.
Pittsburgh's Jamel Artis (1) battles Louisville's Ray Spalding (13) for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 85-80. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Pitt's Michael Young shoots over Louisville's V.J. King during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.
Pitt's Michael Young drives past Louisville's Deng Adel during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.
Pitt's Chris Jones shoots between Louisville's Mangok Mathiang (12), and Quentin Snider during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.
Pitt's Michael Young shoots over Louisville's Donovan Mitchell during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jamel Artis had one of the greatest performances in Pitt basketball history Wednesday night, but the Panthers dug a hole for themselves so deep that even his heroics weren't enough.

Behind Artis' 43 points, including 32 after halftime, Pitt erased most of a 26-point second-half deficit but couldn't get over the hump in falling to No. 14 Louisville, 85-80, at KFC Yum! Center. Artis' point total was an arena and the most points against Louisville since November 1995.

Artis, scored the second-most points in a game in Pitt history and came within two of tying Don Hennon's 59-year-old school record — set against Duke in the 1957-58 season — but he felt only disappointment after the Panthers came up short of pulling off what would have been an epic comeback.

Louisville (14-3, 2-2 ACC) instead defeated Pitt (12-5, 1-3) for the ninth straight time.

“I'm not happy right now,” Artis said. “We're 1-3 in the ACC. This is a team we could have beat tonight. ... It's awesome to have (the second-highest scoring game at Pitt). That's a lot of points to have and go out there and score, but it results in a loss. For me to go to the bus and take this ride home, it's not a good feeling.”

Louisville led 52-26 about three minutes into the second half, but led by Artis' shot-making that included seven 3-pointers, Pitt chipped away, using a 1-3-1 zone to slow the Cardinals' offense.

The Panthers drew within 81-76 on Michael Young's 3-pointer with 44 seconds to play.

But Louisville's Donovan Mitchell made 1 of 2 free throws the next time down, Artis missed a three on the ensuing possession and the Panthers got no closer. Louisville surged ahead thanks largely to a 28-7 first-half run.

Pitt coach Kevin Stallings drew a technical foul during a frustrating first half in which the Panthers saw a 7-4 lead quickly change to a 32-14 deficit.

“I knew we were going to have our chance to come back, that we would have our run,” Artis said. “And we had our run. I think we missed too many free throws that cost us. And the little plays, they had some loose balls at the end and some good shots they made. We've got to come out from the jump (in the) first half. We can't be down 20 going into halftime. It's hard to come back.”

Stallings said Artis had an “incredible performance” but lamented that the team played so poorly in the first half. Louisville outrebounded Pitt, 45-30, and Stallings said the Cardinals' length was formidable.

Young, who entered the game as the ACC's leading scorer, had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting to go with a team-high 11 rebounds.

No other Pitt players scored in double figures, but Artis carried the team by going 15 for 22 from the floor, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range.

Five of his threes came after halftime as he scored the most points in any ACC game since Boston College's Tyrese Rice had 46 against North Carolina in 2008.

“I feel like this every night,” Artis said. “I just knew we were down a good little margin, and my guys were counting on me so I hit a couple shots and I knew I could have hit more. If we come out there doing that in the first half, we're unstoppable to beat.”

Stallings was called for a technical foul for arguing over a foul call at the 4:49 mark of the first half, and the Cardinals proceeded to make four straight free throws to grow the lead to 40-22. Louisville led 47-26 at halftime.

Point guard Quentin Snider led Louisville with 22 points.

After losing 77-66 to Syracuse on Saturday, the Panthers must turn around and face Miami, another solid ACC foe, Saturday.

“It's like this every night,” Stallings said. “We have to play good or better. You can't play average and win in this league.”

Steve Jones is a freelance writer.

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