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Jeter leads Pitt over No. 17 Florida State

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Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 29 points and added 8 rebounds to lead Pitt to an 80-66 win over No. 17 Florida State Saturday afternoon at the Peterson Events Center.

Welcome to the party, Sheldon.

Inconsistent and underwhelming may very well have fit the profile for Sheldon Jeter’s 2016-17 basketball campaign in Oakland.

Saturday afternoon wiped that slate clean.

Jeter led all scorers with a career-high 29 points, leading Pitt (15-12, 4-10) to a stunning 80-66 victory over No. 17 Florida State (21-6, 9-5) Saturday afternoon at the Pete.

The breakout star performance of Jeter consisted of a 12 of 14 shooting clinic, including 4 of 5 from beyond-the-arc, on top of eight rebounds and one steal in 29 minutes of play.

“The first shot I made, it really didn’t feel any different,” said Jeter, who had just one of his points come from the charity stripe.  “I got space and I just took my shots, and they were falling.”

“I’m real happy for our team, proud of their effort,” said head coach Kevin Stallings. “When we concentrate, and focus and play with energy for 40 minutes we are capable of being a good basketball team.  Sheldon was unbelievable, that was as good a performance as we’ve had all year.  I’m really proud of him.”

The Panthers jumped out early on FSU corralling a four-point lead at the break, despite the Seminoles and their size-heavy front court going 15 of 25 (60%) in the first 20 minutes.

Florida State out-scored the Panthers 38-26 in the paint, and out-rebounded them 31-30 but, never had an answer for Jeter and the prolific offensive machine that tallied up 39 points in the 2nd half, while limiting FSU to just 11 made field goals in the final 20 minutes.

“Pittsburgh had a tremendous gameplan neutralizing our big guys buy spreading the floor,” said Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton.  “They only turned the ball over one time in the first half and we were accustomed to getting points off of our defense and that didn’t happen today.  I thought we were fortunate to only be down by four at halftime.”

The Seminoles monster of a center, 7’1” Michael Ojo, was held to just eight points and two rebounds in 12 minutes of play, while forward Jonathan Isaac was forced to rely on his jump shot for much of the game, netting 11 points with six rebounds.

Overall FSU was held to 29 points in the 2nd half, achieving just seven 2nd chance points and seven points off of turnovers, despite leading the ACC in the latter department.

“That was our best 2nd half defense all season,” said Stallings.  “We dug in and again, we played with urgency.  We let one slip away earlier in the week and everybody was devastated by it.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if we got hammered today because our energy level was so low because of what happened Tuesday night.  You need a shot in the arm sometimes and this was a shot in the arm.  I’m real happy for them because that is a hard team to play against.”

FSU used an 9-2 run, capped by a Xavier Rathan-Mayes 3-pointer, bringing the Seminoles back to within three points, and forcing a Pitt timeout with just under seven minutes left in the game.

Jeter hit a pivotal 3-pointer with just under five minutes left in the game to give the Panthers a seven-point cushion.  He followed the next possession with a gutsy rebound, out-classing two Seminole big men, making an FSU comeback nearly impossible.

Pitt shot 26 of 51 (51%) for the game, and boasted a solid 14 assist/eight turnover campaign.  Jamel Artis chipped in with 16 points on 5 of 10 shooting, while Mike Young grabbed 11 points, and Cam Johnson punched in as the last of the Panthers’ double-digit scorers with 10.

FSU’s Rathan-Mayes led the way for his team with 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting, while Terance Mann rounded out the stat card with 10 points.

The Panthers have now won three of their last four games, but remain at the bottom of the league, tied with Clemson for a league’s 3rd worst with four wins.

“We still believe in us,” said Jeter about the team’s morale.  “We believe in ourselves and we believe we can still make it.  We haven’t given up hope yet and we know we can still make the tournament.”

Jetes’ Feats
Easily his best game in a Panthers uniform, Sheldon Jeter almost single-handedly knocked off FSU Saturday with career numbers in points.  The senior, who averages just 7.6 points per game eclipsed that mark midway through the first half on a layup that highlighted a 6-2 run and catapulted Pitt to a two-point lead.

“Everybody was contributing in different ways,” said Cam Johnson.  “But Sheldon really stepped up today and gave us a boost when we needed it.  He played great.”

Jeter is behind just Jamel Artis (44 versus Louisville- Jan. 11) and Lamar Patterson (30 versus Clemson 3/18/14) for most points by a Panther in an ACC game.  The senior finished just four points away from Sam Young’s record for most points scored by a Panther at Petersen Events Center.

Hamilton talked about what Pitt is capable of, and what kind of defensive nightmare a guy like Jeter could present.

“They had a shot on the road to beat North Carloina,” FSU’s head man said.  “They played Duke really well on the road.  They’ve played very good basketball, they just come up short and that is life in the ACC.  They’ve been right there on several occasions.  We said all along the way they play is going to be extremely challenging for us, and obviously, we didn’t plan on Jeter scoring 29 points.  He stepped up and made it very difficult for us.”

After the Spread
The Panthers came in at a closing +6.5 point underdogs to FSU.   The Panthers have been closed as Vegas underdogs in six home games this season (all ACC) which marks a Petersen Events Center high.  Pitt went 3-3 in those six games.  

The total, which was set at 154 points made it just made it under at 146 points.

Next Up
The Panthers will look to parlay their success on the road when they travel to tobacco road in a visit with Wake Forest, Wednesday, Feb. 22.  Tipoff for that game is set for 7 PM.

Click here to see highlights of Pitt's upset

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