PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER--Intentionally or not, Ryan Luther has given his many fans reason to believe that he embodies values that cannot be knocked.
While some of his teammates aggressively assert themselves as Pitt's on-court and off-court leaders, the junior big man and former Hampton Talbot humbly credits coaching and teammates for standout contests while playing the part of the role player that he has always been over the course of his college career under two head coaches.
Luther's 18 points provided a crutch to senior point guard Jamel Artis' 31 points as Pitt eventually proved to be too much for the Rice Owls in an 83-73 win for the Panthers at the Petersen Events Center Saturday evening.
“I’ve been on him to be a little bit more of a Ryan Luther fan himself,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said after the game. “He's a rare guy. I’ve got some guys that are really big fans of themselves. With Ryan, I need him to be a little bit more of a fan of himself, a little bit more confident in who he is.”
Luther's standout night came on the defensive end, as well. In 31 minutes of playing time, Luther helped contain Rice forward Egor Koulechov, who had been averaging 19 points per game prior to Saturday, to 13 points on a 6 for 13 shooting night. Luther also pulled in 7 rebounds and canned a critical late-game jumper that would put the game out of reach.
When asked to detail that specific play in his postgame remarks, Luther began praising teammate Chris Jones for splitting the defense and finding him near the baseline. But Artis interjected.
"Tell [the reporter] it was a great play. You made a great play. It was a great play. It was awesome," Artis said, recycling Stallings' thoughts on Luther.
The Panthers (9-2) have just two more nonconference games remaining before welcoming the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the Petersen Events Center on New Year's Eve.
Egor Koulechov Egor Koulechov