Pitt dominates No. 12 North Carolina
By: Ryan Bertonaschi
Many of the 12,508 fans at the Petersen Events Center poured into their seats just moments before Saturday’s contest between the Pitt Panthers and the North Carolina Tar Heels began. Three seconds after tipoff, they witnessed the Panthers send a tone-setting statement.
Michael Young tapped the ball to Cameron Wright, who took two dribbles and cruised to an uncontested lay-in to give the Panthers a lead that they would never surrender.
The Panthers then grabbed an early 10-0 lead, and the No. 12-ranked Tar Heels did not have enough weapons in their arsenal to give Pitt a serious response, because the Panthers continued to generate offensive production at oftentimes unprecedented rates.
Pitt boasted 30 assists and 65 percent shooting from the floor on the afternoon, and, for the game’s remaining 25 minutes, the Pitt’s lead fluctuated between 13 and 21 points. The Panthers (17-9, 6-6 ACC) coasted en route to a 89-76 win over UNC (18-7, 8-4 ACC).
Their 30 assists were the second-most ever recorded by a UNC opponent, and their 65 percent shooting was the best statistical shooting performance ever registered by a Williams-coached UNC team.
It was the first game in over a year in which six Pitt players scored in double figures. Sheldon Jeter, who started for the second consecutive game, led Pitt in scoring with a career-high 22 points. He was 2 of 4 from 3-point range and was 5 of 6 from the mid-range.
“[The rim] looked like an ocean for Sheldon Jeter,” Cameron Wright said.
Wright, whose playing status was uncertain heading into the game because of a bummed left ankle, followed Jeter with 15 points of his own. Young scored 13, James Robinson scored 12 and Jamel Artis scored 11.
Young and Artis battled foul trouble throughout the game. Young played just 19 minutes and Artis, who appeared visibly injured after a collision at the basket in the first half, played 27 minutes.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon did not reveal Artis’ condition after the game.
Dixon’s squad won despite being outrebounded 31-27.
“25 assists, 4 turnovers for us, we shoot 49 percent,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “[We] outrebounded them, particularly in the second half. You’d think that would be a win for us. But they were sensational shooting the ball and you look down and their assist to turnover ratio was 30 to 5.”
Pitt’s 89 points were four points shy of the program’s all-time record for points scored in a conference game.
Equally as impressive remains the fact that Pitt held UNC point guard and AP Preseason All-American Marcus Paige to a mere 8 points.
Pitt travels to Virginia to face the No. 2 ranked Cavaliers Wednesday in the fourth of a tumultuous five-game span against quality ACC opponents.
Wright explained how important the game is for the Panthers.
“We know that we’re on the bubble right now. We’re actually not even a bubble team.”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.