Efficient Panthers roll past North Carolina

Pittsburgh, PA ( - If North Carolina was looking ahead to Wednesday's matchup with Duke, Pittsburgh sure made the 12th-ranked Tar Heels pay.

Sheldon Jeter made 10-of-14 shots and scored a career-high 22 points to lead six Panthers in double figures, as Pittsburgh rolled to an 89-76 victory on Saturday at the Petersen Events Center.

Pittsburgh came out hot in each half, making its first four shots of the first 20 minutes and connecting on each of its first seven in the second. The Panthers (17-9, 6-6 ACC) eventually finished at 64.9 percent from the field and bounced back nicely after Wednesday's 69-56 loss at Louisville.

"We shot it well and that makes a lot of things work a lot better so that was good to see," said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. "The passing was where it started. The unselfishness -- 30 assists, five turnovers. It was really a great performance against a very good team, who also played well."

Cameron Wright, who missed Wednesday's game because of an ankle injury, chipped in 15 points and 10 assists in the lopsided victory, and Michael Young scored 13 points while missing just one of his seven shots. James Robinson added 12 points with eight assists, Jamel Artis finished with 11 points and Chris Jones netted 10.

The efficient Panthers finished with 30 assists on 37 made field goals and committed a mere five turnovers.

Brice Johnson scored 19 points for North Carolina (18-7, 8-4), which has lost three of its last four and will play the first of two highly anticipated matchups with arch-rival Duke on Wednesday in Durham.

The Tar Heels also played for the first time since learning of the death of Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith last Saturday.

It was a cold day outside in Pittsburgh, but the Panthers heated up quickly.

Wright and Young combined for eight of the game's first 10 points, as the Tar Heels came up empty on four trips and quickly trailed by double-digits. Johnson's dunk pulled North Carolina within 13-9 and the Tar Heels tied it at 18-18 midway through the first half on a jumper by Johnson.

Pittsburgh, though, never fell behind.

"Jaime's club was so much more well-prepared than we were," said North Carolina coach Roy Williams. "They shot the ball better than they have all year long and our defense really helped them do that."

Artis and Jeter countered with 3-pointers to extend the margin back to six and a bucket by Kennedy Meeks a few moments later pulled North Carolina within two, but the Panthers responded with a 12-3 run.

Jeter scored five during the surge and Wright's jumper gave Pittsburgh a 38-27 cushion with just over four minutes left in the half. North Carolina got only as close as eight from there and a 10-4 run to close the half allowed the Panthers to take a 48-34 lead to the intermission.

The Pittsburgh blitz continued early after the break. Jeter connected for three baskets as part of the Panthers' seven straight makes to start the second half. Jones came up short on a try from beyond the arc to end the string, but Pittsburgh by then had already expanded the lead to 18.

Jones' layup a few minutes later gave the Panthers their first 20-point bulge at 67-47 and his triple with just over nine minutes left gave Pitt its largest lead at 74-50.

Game Notes

Meeks finished with 15 points for North Carolina, while leading scorer Marcus Paige had just eight and made only 1-of-7 from 3-point range ... Pittsburgh hit 8-of-15 from beyond the arc and the Panthers' only real struggle came in a 7-for-13 effort at the free throw line ... The Tar Heels had 25 assists on 29 made field goals and only turned it over four times ... Pittsburgh improved to 3-8 all-time against North Carolina and beat the Tar Heels for the second straight time. The Panthers earned an 80-75 victory in the last meeting, last March in the ACC Tournament ... North Carolina lost to the Panthers in Pittsburgh for the first time in four tries. The last meeting in Pittsburgh was Dec. 20, 1995 at the Civic Arena ... Pittsburgh has a quick turnaround with a visit to Virginia on Monday.