The Panthers are back on track in a big way after their dominating 90-71 victory over the Virginia tech Hokies. Pitt now is deadlocked in a four-way tie for third place in the ACC.
After losing three over their last five games, Jamie Dixon decided to shake things up versus the Hokies. Rafael Maia was sent to the bench and in his place was Sheldon Jeter. The results showed immediately, as Jeter started hot from the field scoring 11 of the team’s first 15 points. At that point Pitt held a small four-point lead, which would not break open until the six-minute mark. At that time, in a tie game, Pitt would drill three straight threes, thanks to Ryan Luther, Sterling Smith, and Jamel Artis. Virginia Tech’s sharpshooting Seth Allen did what he could to cut the lead, but the Panther’s Cameron Johnson hit back-to-back threes right before half to give Pitt the 41-32 advantage.
Michael Young sustained a lip injury in the first half, but when the second half started he looked ready to dominate. After his first lay-up of the half the lead would hover around eleven to 15 points, until a quick 7-0 run by the Panthers stretched that to 18. From there the game never really was close to being lost for Pitt, keeping that advantage at around 15 points. When it was all said and done Pitt had a cool 19-point win.
Sheldon Jeter was the star of the game with 23 points on 9-13 shooting. Artis and Young were also in double figures with 11 and 13 points respectively. James Robinson only had eight points, but did record 11 assists.
Sheldon Jeter- 23 points, seven rebounds, and a block now that is a good stat line. Dixon’s decision to start him worked brilliantly. The team started the game with more energy and the offense had a lot more options.
Bench Production- Ryan Luther, Cameron Johnson, and Damon Wilson combined to score 26 points on the night. Pitt has one of the more high scoring benches in the ACC and on Sunday it was key to the win.
Ball Movement- The offense looked the way it is supposed against the Hokies and that had everything to do with the ball movement. Crisp and direct passes were made all night, which led to a high scoring game. Pitt had 30 assists to just nine turnovers.
Perimeter Defense- Virginia Tech is an average shooting team, but against Pitt they rained in threes. For the game they made 11 of 21 attempts, led by Seth Allen’s 5-5. The Panthers need to do a better job of limiting shooters.
Scorer Guarding- Good scorers will get theirs that is just how basketball is, but it is on the defense to make him work for it. Seth Allen has been hot lately and Pitt did nothing to slow him down. He had 28 points on 7-10 from the field and 5-5 from three.
Jamel Artis Shooting Percentage- Artis is over 50% from the field on the season, but the last two games he has made just nine of his 22 attempts. Add in the fact he is also 2-8 from three in those games and it is clear Artis is not scoring efficiently.
Offensive Grade: B+
Pitt’s offense moved with a purpose and passed the ball extremely well all night. That is why they had such good looks at the hoop and ended the game over 50% from the field. The only areas that bring down this grade slightly are free throw and three-point shooting. The Panthers had open looks, but they only made eight of 25 attempts. However, they did hit timely threes so it is hard to knock them too much. Free throw shooting was not awful, 10-15, but they are 76.7% as a team so they can do better.
Defensive Grade: B-
For the most part the defense was active and did a solid job against the Hokies. Virginia Tech had 20 turnovers and was held 15 points below their season average, which is what you want out of a defensive effort. But they still got way with too many clean looks from the perimeter for this grade to be any higher.
Coaching Grade: A
Dixon changed the starting lineup to make it smaller, much like he did last year. That change showed vast improvements and he did not stop there, as Pitt showed a variety of different lineups and defenses. Not to mention the fact that the team was able to build a nine-point halftime lead with Michael Young hurt most of the half. Dixon had this team looking hungry and ready.
The Peterson Events Center will be blacked out for their game against number nine Virginia on Saturday February 6th at noon.