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Jeter leads Pitt in blowout of Virginia Tech

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Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 23 points, Mike Young added 13 and James Robinson dropped 11 dimes as Pitt blew out Virginia Tech 90-71.

PITTSBURGH - Coming off a lopsided loss on the road to a surprisingly competitive Clemson team, the Panthers looked to come out with an added intensity that’s been missing over the past several games.

Hoping for an early spark, Jamie Dixon inserted Jeter into the starting lineup, a spot normally held by Rafael Maia. Jeter started nine games down the stretch last season, but so far this year has been Pitt’s first man off the bench due to their crowded frontcourt.

“With this team, given how deep we are, if you make a couple mistakes you’ll end up on the bench,” Jeter said. “It’s a lot easier to make shots (as a starter)… it’s a lot easier to get loose.”

Dixon’s faith in the redshirt junior paid dividends early and often, as the he scored 13 first half points, leading the Panthers to a 41-32 lead at the break.

The Panthers increased their advantage early in the second half behind improved defensive play, and forced 20 Virginia Tech turnovers in the game.

Despite facing an early rebounding differential of 12-3, the Panthers out-rebounded the Hokies 31-20 over the final 30 minutes to the battle of the boards 34-32.

“A couple of our past performances we’ve just been out-physicalled,” Jeter said. “A lot of us got called out, including me.”

Seth Allen and Zach LeDay combined for 40 points for Virginia Tech, but the rest of the Hokies failed to contribute their share, creating a predictable offensive display with far too little ball movement for Buzz Williams’ liking.

Pitt had 30 assists on 36 made field goals, and proved to be incredibly efficient throughout the game, only committing 9 turnovers.

“We shared the ball really well tonight,” Robinson said. “That’s what we focused on in practice, it’s good to see it translate to the game.”

The win moves Pitt to 6-3 in the ACC ahead of their much-anticipated “blackout” game against Virginia on Saturday. The game will begin a tough stretch for the Panthers as they play five teams currently ranked in the AP top-25 in their next seven games, including three in a row.

Game Notes:

  • Pitt Jamel ArtisDepth down low: Coming into the year there were many question marks about graduate transfers like Maia and Nelson-Ododa, but as the year has developed it’s become obvious that the Panthers’ depth in the frontcourt is their biggest strength. The recent emergence of Ryan Luther’s outside shot only adds to the Jamie Dixon’s arsenal of big men. Using former starter Rafael Maia off the bench in shorter spurts could prove more effective as well.
  • Robinson’s Redemption? The senior guard has struggled mightily with his shot the last six games and counting. Despite his shooting woes, Robinson made good decisions with the ball Sunday night with double-digit assists without a turnover and was able to finish around the rim. 
  • Defense: That’s a term Pitt faithful haven’t heard much of in a positive light lately. The Panthers forced 20 Virginia Tech turnovers, leading to 33 points. “We wanted to force some turnovers, that’s something we really emphasized this week,” Dixon said. “We all need to be more physical and more aggressive.”

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