Defending has been an issue all season long for the Pitt Panthers and the inability to get stops proved costly once again as No. 7 North Carolina ran away from the Panthers in the second half Thursday, en route to an 88-71 victory, bouncing the Panthers from the ACC Tournament.
Now Pitt has to sit back and wait as they will learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday evening.
The Panthers hung around with the Tar Heels and led late in the first half before a 10-0 UNC (26-6) run closed the half and sent the Heels into the locker room with a 39-35 lead.
Pitt (20-11) kept it close early in the second half before another large Carolina run put the game away as North Carolina upped the lead to as many as 19 at one point.
Joel Berry II led North Carolina with 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, and Brice Johnson added 19 on 8-of-11 shooting. Johnson also pulled down 10 rebounds as the Heels outrebounded Pitt 30-25. Justin Jackson (11) and Isaiah Hicks (10) also finished in double figures for North Carolina.
Michael Young and Jamel Artis did their part for the Panthers, each scoring 19 points, but the duo had very little help. Sheldon Jeter also finished in double figures with 13.
Scoring at Will- North Carolina set a season best mark from the floor at 59 percent when the two teams met in the regular season.
The Tar Heels found things just as easy this time around, shooting 58.9 percent from the floor on the afternoon.
Points in the paint- Pitt struggled against the dribble drive and the UNC bigs as 40 of North Carolina’s points came in the paint.
Game of runs- Pitt led 8-0 early as Artis scored the first eight points of the game.
They were able to keep that lead until a turnover by James Robinson led to a dunk by Johnson to give UNC the lead as they put together a 12-0 run. Meanwhile Pitt went nearly five minutes without scoring during that span, which proved very costly.
A three from Jeter tied the game at 45 with 15:52 left, but UNC re-took the lead 15 seconds later and went on an 11-0 run to put the game away.
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