Pitt 89, UNC 76

PITTSBURGH - Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 22 points and hot-shooting Pittsburgh dominated No. 12 North Carolina 89-76 on Saturday.

Box Score
Cameron Wright added 15 points for the Panthers (17-9, 6-6 ACC), who shot 65 percent from the field (37 of 67) and never trailed while winning for the fourth time in five games.

Two of those victories have come at home against ranked opponents. Pitt edged Notre Dame two weeks ago but had no trouble against the Tar Heels (18-7, 8-4). The Panthers led by as much as 24 in the second half during its most impressive victory of an erratic season.

Brice Johnson led North Carolina with 19 points but the Tar Heels had no answer for Jeter in the program's first game since the death of retired Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

The Tar Heels hadn't played in a week, a tumultuous stretch that included Smith's passing and the murder of a Muslim graduate student, his wife and sister not far from the Chapel Hill campus.

North Carolina guard Nate Britt called it a difficult period for the community and the school, and there was little fire from the Tar Heels with a showdown against arch rival Duke looming.

The Panthers were smarting after a late-game collapse on the road at Louisville on Wednesday. Pitt led by six with 10 minutes to go only to fall by 13. Jeter hinted the Panthers might have been intimidated when the Cardinals and burly forward Montrezl Harrell got serious.

Three days later, Pitt made sure it didn't come down to the final minutes. The Panthers built a 14-point halftime lead then hit their first seven shots after the break, with Jeter - a transfer from Vanderbilt who spent the early portion of the season playing sporadically - finding open spaces and knocking down a series of midrange jump shots.

Jeter had plenty of help. Pitt made 8 of 15 3-pointers, collected 30 assists on 37 baskets and didn't allow North Carolina within single digits over the final 22 minutes.

Wright sat out the loss to Louisville with a bum ankle but dispelled any concern about his status early, streaking for a layup off the opening tip. He later added an elbow jumper as the Panthers reeled off the game's first 10 points. The Tar Heels steadied themselves to tie it twice, but Pitt recovered even with Michael Young on the bench with two fouls.

Passing crisply around - and sometimes into - the North Carolina zone, the Panthers took a 48-34 lead into the half. The final basket served as a perfect microcosm of Pitt's best 20 minutes of the season. Pitt held the ball for the last shot and appeared to be out of sync only to have Chris Jones find Young open for a dunk just before the buzzer.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels came in second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and had 12 against the Panthers, but 11 came in the second half, with most of them during garbage time. ... Kennedy Meeks added 15 points for North Carolina but leading scorer Marcus Paige just eight and made only 1 of 7 3-pointers.

Pitt: The Panthers held a moment of silence before tip-off to honor Smith, and several members of the student section held a lengthy banner that read "You should never be proud of doing the right thing, you should just do it," one of Smith's more famous quotes.


North Carolina plays at Duke on Wednesday.

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