Lamar Patterson cracked the 1,000-point plateau on a jump shot nearly six minutes into Pitt’s game Tuesday, becoming the 42nd Panther to accomplish the feat in program history. Patterson finished with 14 points, three assists and three rebounds in Pitt’s 58-46 victory against Albany in the team’s final game of its non-conference schedule.
“It feels good, I guess,” Patterson said of his milestone. “I’ve been around long enough so it’s a good accomplishment.”
The redshirt senior forward from Lancaster, Pa., fell a point shy of the mark in his last game Dec. 21, when he scored a career-high 30 points against Cal Poly. Patterson leads the Panthers with averages of 16.9 points and 4.5 assists per game.
“I think obviously you’re seeing the best of a good career,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. “You’re seeing a great senior year. That’s what you want to see.”
Patterson’s performances on game days this season come from a strong ethic, as witnessed by redshirt junior guard Cam Wright. Wright, now in his fourth year in the program, has watched Patterson since he arrived in Pittsburgh and noticed things Wright says go “unnoticed” by many.
“You see the gameplay, the 40 minutes, but you don’t see the everyday grind: the lifting weights, running suicides on your own,” Wright said. “That’s what Lamar does.”
That work ethic has helped Patterson takes strides from not just his early years at Pitt, but even the last two seasons when Patterson started all 70 of Pitt’s games. The improvements have been most noticeable in his four games scoring 20-plus points this season.
“He’s got remarkable improvement in a lot of areas,” Dixon said. “I think he’s gotten better for us a defender, he’s doing a lot of things obviously offensively.”
As one of two seniors on the 2013-14 roster, Patterson’s accomplishment is emblematic of his leadership early on that has guided the Panthers to a 12-1 start.
“He’s really had a terrific 13 games for us,” Dixon said. “We need him to lead us.”
The Panthers enter their first season as a member of the ACC Saturday at North Carolina State, and Dixon just wants Patterson to continue doing what he’s doing the rest of the way.
“There’s going to be some games where he not going to score as much,” Dixon said. “But he’s getting the shots, getting everybody shots, getting everybody involved.”
Dixon’s focus now switches to Pitt’s matchup with the Wolfpack, but the Panthers can ring in the new year with the celebration of Patterson’s milestone. And, with at least 18 games remaining this season, Patterson has an opportunity to climb into the ranks of Pitt’s all-time leading scorers.
“Everything he’s accomplished, he deserves it,” Wright said. “He works his butt off everyday.”