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No. 8 North Carolina dismantles Pitt 85-64

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No. 8 North Carolina shot 59 percent from the floor while holding ‪Pitt‬ to just 37 percent as the Tar Heels hammered the Panthers 85-64 in Chapel Hill on Sunday afternoon.

North Carolina’s strong shooting combined with 19 Pitt turnovers to send the Panthers to their third straight loss, all coming to ranked teams.

The defeat drops Pitt’s record to 17-7 overall and 6-6 in ACC play. North Carolina is now 13-0 at home and improved their record to 21-4 and 10-2 against conference opponents.

Five different Tar Heels finished in double figures led by Brice Johnson with 19 points on nine of 12 shooting.

Heading into the game, Pitt was averaging 70 points in ACC matchups, but shooting 37 percent from the field limited their chances of maintaining that mark.

The Tar Heels built up a quick 10-4 lead after the first official timeout following five consecutive made field goals. Pitt missed seven of their first nine shots.

A catch and shoot 3-pointer by Joel Berry II, followed by another three by Nate Britt, put North Carolina up double digits two minutes later. The 13-0 run forced the Panthers to call a timeout at the 12:57 mark. The Tar Heels defense made the Panthers turn the ball over five times during this stretch.

Pitt would cut the deficit to six with 9:07 remaining. An Alonzo Nelson-Ododa block resulted in a transition pump fake 3-pointer by Sterling Smith assisted by a driving James Robinson.

Despite shooting 34 percent from the field and committing eight turnovers, Pitt still trailed by just six points with 3:42 left in the first half.

However, over the next minute and a half, North Carolina went on an 8-0 run and built the lead to 15 points. Tar Heels’ forward Justin Jackson led the run starring by knocking down a three from the top of key, and then feeding a cutting Johnson for a dunk. Then, Britt stole the ball, passed it up to Jackson, who drove and kicked the ball outside to Marcus Paige on the left wing who drilled another three.

A Sheldon Jeter jumper made the score 42-29 at halftime. 

Pitt struggled shooting the ball, only making 12 of 34 shots; although eight different Panthers scored in the first half. North Carolina assisted on 13 of their 15 made first half baskets.

Pitt’s top two scorers, Jamel Artis and Michael Young, each picked up their third personal foul within the first four minutes of the second half. At this point, Pitt had collected 12 offensive rebounds, but was only able to score four points off of those.

With Pitt only trailing 50-41, Robinson missed two free throws, which would prove to be the end of Pitt’s comeback attempt. Paige hit a fade away corner 3-pointer at the 12:51 mark, starting a 13-3 North Carolina run that put the game away.

With under five minutes remaining, a turnover by Chris Jones led to a breakaway layup by Berry making the score 78-52. It was the Tar Heels 26th point in transition – more than they scored in their three previous games combined. North Carolina also continued to share the ball in the second half by assisting on 26 of 32 made baskets.
 
Free throws also keyed the Tar Heels victory, going 13-15 from the line compared to Pitt’s 5-13.

Young was the top performer for the Panthers, scoring 15 points on 7 of 13 shots as well as picking up six rebounds. Robinson also scored 15 points.

Next for Pitt is a home game against Wake Forest on Feb. 16.

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