Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Panthers Getting Plenty of Help from Role Players

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Panthers Getting Plenty of Help from Role Players

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Pitt is built on a trio of three experienced players in forwards Mike Young and Jamel Artis and point guard James Robinson, who are among the best at their positions in the ACC.

Those three will lead the Panthers to whatever heights they reach this season, but the reality is they can't do it on their own. They need help from their teammates.

And as coach Jamie Dixon said early this season, the Panthers' supporting cast is eight players deep and different players from that group have stepped up in each of their wins. Saturday in a 74- 72 victory against Florida State, it was Sterling Smith and Ryan Luther's turn to make big plays at key moments. Smith scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half while the offense struggled, keeping the Panthers in the game until the rest of the offense heated up. And Luther gave the Panthers 15 solid minutes at center, stepping up for Sheldon Jeter, who missed the game because of a concussion.

Luther also had a huge play down the stretch, grabbing an offensive rebound with the score tied, 67-67, with 33 seconds left and passing it to Artis on the perimeter. Artis then hit a 3- pointer that gave the Panthers their first lead of the second half. Dixon praised Smith and Luther and said the Panthers need to continue to have their secondary players step up in conference play.

"It was great to do without Sheldon because we had other guys running, we obviously made the big play at the end," Dixon said. "We had other guys step up. Ryan obviously made the big play at the end but I thought Alonzo [Nelson-Ododa] and Rafael [Maia] did a great job for us too. I've said it many times this year, it is going to be different guys every night."

Cam Johnson scored 20 points Jan. 16 against Boston College, Jeter had 18 against Notre Dame Jan. 9, and Smith had 11 points and five rebounds Jan. …

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