Over the past two seasons since his transfer from Vanderbilt, Pitt forward Sheldon Jeter has carved out a role for himself as the Panthers sixth man. Combining his long rangy athleticism with an inside out scoring touch, Jeter has drawn praise as one of the best sixth men in the ACC if not the entire country. After yesterday’s performance against Virginia Tech he may not carry that moniker much longer.
Following two lack luster performances in losses to Clemson and N.C. State, and barely squeaking out a two point victory on the road victory against Florida State, it seemed the lineup was due for a shuffle. Enter Sheldon Jeter. Coach Jamie Dixon slotted Jeter with the starters replacing dinged up center Rafael Maia. The move paid immediate dividends. Jeter came out on fire, scoring 13 of Pitt’s first 17 points and finished with a career high 23 points as the Panthers blasted the Hokies, 90-71, at the Petersen Events Center on Sunday night.
Jeter was fantastic all around, scoring on drives, dunks, and outside jumpers. Swapping Jeter’s speed and athleticism for the plodding center showed in Pitt’s attack, playing at a faster pace and getting out for more transition offense. He made his presence felt on the glass and defense as well. He grabbed seven rebounds, a steal, and one thunderous block in the second half that nearly sent the ball into the Panthers famed student section the Oakland zoo.
The more hectic pace and tempo gave Virginia Tech fits. They turned the ball over 20 times leading to 33 points for the Panthers. Seth Allen poured in 28 points for the Hokies including an impressive 5-for-5 from three-point land. Allen’s barrage withstanding this game was out of reach for most of the second half with Pitt clearly in control.
As for the starters, star forward Michael Young, missing from the stat sheet in the first half, ended the game with a respectable 13 points and seven rebounds. All that despite playing with a cut lip after he caught an errant blow in the first half that temporarily sent him to the locker room. Steady point guard James Robinson finished with 8 points and 11 assists including a crowd pleasing alley-oop to Jamel Artis late in the second.
With Sheldon Jeter promoted to starting duty Cameron Johnson and big man Ryan Luther provided some scoring punch off the bench, each contributing nine points. The sweet shooting Johnson knocked down three triples and Luther, showing a newly discovered jumper, even hit a three-pointer. Those two may very well be auditioning for a new role. After yesterday’s dominant performance Sheldon Jeter might as well drop that 6th man title and get comfortable in the starting lineup.