Cold shooting again unc can’t solve pittsburgh

Chapel Hill, NC – North Carolina could never solve Pittsburgh again. The Panthers pulled off a 65-64 rout of the Tar Heels Wednesday night at ACC Basketball at the Smith Center, as Jamarius Burton’s pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left became the difference.

Driving into the frontcourt with 0.6 seconds left, Caleb Love attempted a faded triple-pointer that was denied by Pitt’s Nike Sibande. Pete picked up his fifth win in the last six meetings between these teams, winning three straight visits here to Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels (15-7 overall, 7-4 ACC), returning from a seven-day break between games, suffered their first home loss of the season, while missing a chance to edge out Pitt (16-7, 9-3) and a lone possession For third place in the crowded league standings. UNC went into the night 10-0 at home, including 5-0 in ACC games.

But it was an all-time struggle for the Tar Heels, who shot just 34.8 percent from the field, including 18.5 percent from 3-point range, and 59.1 percent from the free throw line, as their winning streak ran out to four games. UNC went 1-for-14 beyond the 3-point arc during the second half, but led 46-40 when Pete Nance turned on a cut bucket in the fairway and bent his arms in reaction.

Love, by 22 points, topped UNC. Armando Pacote (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Nance (13 points) also hit a double-double. Bacot and RJ Davis shot a combined 6-for-25 from the field and 11-for-19 from the free throw line.

Nellie Cummings connected on five three-pointers and put up a career-high 21 points for Pitt. Burton finished with 19 points on 6-for-18 shooting, while occasionally giving the Tar Heels a proper how-to defensive tackle. UNC defense specialist Leaky Black was whistled for his third and fourth foul on consecutive calls during the first four minutes of the second half.

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Burton broke out for a career-high 31 points five weeks ago when the Panthers won the first game of the season between those two teams in Pittsburgh. In the end, the Heels chased down the Tar again on Wednesday night with the game-winning free throws.

UNC later fell behind by seven points on three occasions during the final 9½ minutes of the game, trailing 61-55 with less than five minutes remaining, before taking a 64-63 lead on Bacot’s double of free throws with 1:07 to go.

UNC’s Armando Pacote shoots Wednesday night. (Photo: Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina, 247 Sports)

Armando Pacote laps early

Bacot, who entered as the second-leading scorer in the ACC, did not break the scoring pole until the 5:06 mark of the first half. His somewhat slow start got under way shortly thereafter, when the big man scored five straight points while the Tar Heels didn’t switch ends of the field.

Burton had a turnover with 4:38 remaining, and UNC effectively held ownership until the 3:43 mark. Nance kept two missed free throws from Backout alive on the offensive boards, with Backout laying free throws around the bucket from the post-follow to bring out his five-point stoppage on this side of the court.

He finished the game 3-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-15 from the free throw line.

Caleb Love’s active debut

Love started early Wednesday night with 13 first-half points, a start that wasn’t quite as efficient as he did in last week’s win at Syracuse. Love had taken 10 shots from the field in the first half here against Pittsburgh, more than he attempted in the game at Syracuse — when he went 4-for-7 from the field, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and scored 15 points.

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However, the Tar Heels needed Love’s offense to stay within 34-33 of Pitt by the end of the first half cold shooting (30.6 percent from the field). He scored nine of UNC’s first 17 points and 12 of the team’s first 22 points. When his third pointer connected, Love and Nance had racked up 19 of their team’s first 22 points.

Next on the schedule
North Carolina records its third straight victory over rival Duke on Saturday night. The Tar Hills were victorious 94-81 in their recent visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC, defeating Duke in retired head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell home game. Four weeks later in New Orleans, UNC pulled off another epic win over the Blue Devils, winning 81-77 in the Final Four to send Krzyzewski into retirement after a loss.

Duke, now under head coach John Scheer, is 11-0 at home this season, including 5-0 in ACC games. The Blue Devils (16-6, 7-4) have won three of their last four games since losing to league leaders Clemson, and four of their last six since being mauled by NC State in Raleigh to open January.

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