By Don Phillips
Virginia Tech (12-9, 4-4) at Pittsburgh (16-4, 5-3)
Sunday, January 31, 2016 • 6:30 p.m. • ESPNU
Pittsburgh, Pa. • Petersen Events Center
Pitt dropped a 73-60 road contest to Clemson Wednesday in Greenville, S.C. The Panthers shot just 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the field in the loss.
Pitt is ranked 23rd in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll and is also receiving votes for the top 25 in the AP Poll. The Panthers have been ranked in the coaches poll in each of the past five weeks.
The Panthers rank 30th in the latest NCAA RPI with a 7-4 record against teams currently in the top 100. Virginia Tech enters tonight’s game 113th in the RPI.
Pitt is 16-0 this season and 234-22 (.914) under Jamie Dixon when scoring 70 or more points in a game. The Panthers rank ninth nationally in KenPom.com raw offensive efficiency at 117.2 points per 100 possessions. Pitt is one of six ACC teams ranked in the top 10 in that category.
Pitt ranks third in the NCAA in free throw percentage (.771) and has shot 80.0 percent or better from the foul line in nine contests. Jonathan Milligan (1.000), Sterling Smith (.917), Sheldon Jeter (.833), Cameron Johnson (.833) and Michael Young (.820) are each shooting better than 80.0 percent from the foul line this season. James Robinson (.772) and Jamel Artis (.772) are also shooting above the team average.
Pitt ranks fourth in the ACC in rebound margin (+7.9) and is 13-0 this season when outrebounding the opposition. Four Panthers – Michael Young (6.8), Sheldon Jeter (5.4), Jamel Artis (4.5), Rafael Maia (4.4) and Sterling Smith (4.1) – are contributing at least 4.0 rebounds per game.
Pitt has received strong play off the bench this season with veterans Chris Jones and Sheldon Jeter leading the way. The tandem has combined for 13 of Pitt’s 18 double-figure scoring games off the bench with the Panther reserves averaging an ACC-best 27.7 points per game.
Damon Wilson scored a season-high 20 points against Central Arkansas, to match the eighth-most points scored by a freshman off the bench in program history.
Cameron Johnson came off the bench for a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Boston College. He knocked down four three-point field goals in the win.
Pitt possesses one of the top home court advantages in the country. The Petersen Events Center, in its 14th year as the home of the Panthers, also features one of the nation’s best student sections in the Oakland Zoo.
Pitt has compiled a 219-33 (.869) record, including a 127-5 (.962) ledger in non-conference play, at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt is 20-12 (.625) versus teams ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll at the Petersen Events Center, with a 14-3 (.824) mark against top 10 teams and a 9-1 (.900) ledger versus teams ranked in the top-5 nationally.
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