Jeter to return to practice today, could play at Clemson Wednesday night
January 26, 2016 12:08 AM
Sheldon Jeter, dunking against Syracuse in the ACC opener Dec. 30, likely will return Wednesday after going through concussion protocol.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pitt expects to have its main reserve contributor back for the beginning of a tough five-game stretch.
Forward Sheldon Jeter, who missed the game Saturday at Florida State because of a concussion, is scheduled to practice today, coach Jamie Dixon said. If that goes well, Jeter could return to the lineup Wednesday night for a game at Clemson.
“He did skill work and some running [Monday],” Dixon said. “Did some stuff on Sunday as well when we got back.”
Jeter sustained the concussion in practice.
“He said his head hurt that day,” Dixon said. “He said it to the doctor later that evening. … Probably felt he could have played [Saturday], the day before, but he’s right on schedule. If you say you have a headache, you’re out for five days. That’s pretty much how it works. You’re not practicing.”
In Jeter’s absence, forward Ryan Luther played 15 minutes in the Panthers’ 74-72 victory against the Seminoles. Luther rebounded his missed layup in the final minute and passed to forward Jamel Artis, whose 3-pointer gave Pitt the lead.
“[Luther] came in there and played major minutes and contributed very well to the team,” Artis said. “Sheldon, hopefully, he comes back [against] Clemson because we need him.”
Jeter has not started a game, but averages 21.8 minutes per game in ACC play and ranks second on the team in rebounding with 5.4 per game. The Panthers (16-3, 5-2 ACC) will need any contributions they can get in their upcoming five-game stretch.
Clemson started the season 7-6 and lost non-conference games to Massachusetts, Minnesota, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. After opening ACC play with a loss at No. 2 North Carolina, the Tigers won five of their next six games, including victories against No. 16 Louisville, No. 24 Duke and No. 15 Miami.
A 12-8 Virginia Tech team visits Pitt Sunday after Clemson. After that, Pitt plays No. 11 Virginia at home (Feb. 6) before traveling to play Miami (Feb. 9) and North Carolina (Feb. 14).
“We can’t skip over teams or look at certain teams,” Dixon said. “We’ve got to focus on just Clemson.”
Dixon has, at times, shortened practice, he said, to give his players a physical and mental break as the season toughens in the second half.
Clemson is second-to-last in the ACC with 69.4 points per game, but third in scoring defense, allowing only 62.7. The average margin of victory in their conference games is 6.9 points. Pitt gained experience winning a close game on the road Saturday, when it trailed by 10 at the half before cutting it to three with 15:25 remaining, and the game stayed close the rest of the way.
“We were playing not our best basketball in the first half,” guard Sterling Smith said. “… Coach got into us at halftime about how we had to dig deep and play better on defense, because that’s what’s going to win us this game.”
Though Pitt ranks sixth in the 15-team ACC with 65.8 points allowed per game, Smith and Artis indicated that the Panthers needed improvement from their on-ball defenders.
“If they break us off the dribble,” Smith said, “it kind of breaks down the defense.”
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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