For the sixth time in seven games, Carolina walked off the basketball court victorious after going to Pittsburgh, and beating the Panthers 75-65. After shooting 54% on Saturday, Carolina followed that with a 52% shooting performance, as they bullied their way to another win. Armando Bacot possibly put his name in the ACC Player of the Year race, with a 21 point, 10 rebound performance. On the flip side, Pittsburgh shot just 42% from the field, and were just 10-27 on layup attempts. The Tar Heels used 48 paint points, and 18 second chance points to power themselves to a much needed road win.
Entering the game, Carolina was tasked of slowing down Justin Champagnie, and while they allowed him to have a double-double, they took away Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney enough to keep the Pitt offense out of rhythm all night long. Despite shooting 40% from behind the three point line, Pitt couldn’t convert their looks at the rim, much to the credit of the Tar Heels size and length. After holding the Panthers to .71 points per possession in the first half, Pitt was able to muster 1.04 points per down the floor, but that wasn’t enough to overcome Carolina’s efficient offensive night.
It wasn’t the complete game like we saw on Saturday, but you can see this team is coming together, and building their confidence every time out. In addition to Bacot’s big night, Garrison Brooks provided 16 points on 8-11 shooting. Overall, the Tar Heels put only 3 players in double figures scoring, but it was enough for them to prevail. Following two big wins at home, the Tar Heels were able to carry that momentum on the road, and earn one of their best wins of the season:
Brooks & Bacot: Armando Bacot has transformed into the best player for the Tar Heels, and their first option on offense. His 21 point, 10 rebound effort cements that thought, but Carolina needs more of the Garrison Brooks they got tonight. Brooks has been the most effective against the zone, which Carolina saw plenty of tonight, but this is the most comfortable he’s looked all season long. Day’Ron Sharpe is going to be a part of this team moving forward, but Carolina is at its best when these two guys dominate like they did tonight.
Rebounding: Entering the game tonight, on paper it appeared that Pitt could hang with the Tar Heels on the glass. Carolina jumped out to a 14-5 rebounding margin, and never looked back, out-rebounding the Panthers 37-29. UNC hauled in 14 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 18 second chance points. For Pitt, they only grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, and turned them into just 9 points. Carolina is the best rebounding team in college basketball, and that’s a big reason why they won tonight.
Points in the Paint: In an era where it’s normal to play on the perimeter, Carolina is built to play inside-out, and when they do their a tough team to beat. UNC dominated the painted area, 48-32 as they were just too much for the smaller Panthers all night long.
Turnovers/Free Throws: It’s not often you win a game while shooting 50% from the foul line, and commit 13 turnovers, but that’s what happened tonight. Carolina benefited in fact that Pitt only turned their 13 turnovers into just 9 points. If there’s one area Carolina is still needing more improvement, this is the one.
Up Next: As of right now, Carolina is scheduled to play again next Tuesday at Clemson. After a reshuffle of the ACC schedule this weekend, the Tar Heels weren’t given a game for this weekend.