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Heel Tough Blog: Pittsburgh Recap

Grant Halverson- Getty Images

It was a disappointing night last night for the Tar Heels, as they lost at home to Pitt, 76-67, in the most inexcusable loss of the season so far. The loss dropped Carolina to 18-8, on the season, and 10-6 in the ACC, as Carolina's NCAA Tournament hopes took a significant hit. UNC trailed at halftime, 40-23, making it the third largest halftime deficit in the history of the Smith Center. Pitt utilized a 21-2 run to take control of the game, as they won for the second straight time in Chapel Hill. All 5 starters for Pitt scored in double figures, as they shot 51% from the field, and 58% from behind the arc. Meanwhile for Carolina, they shot just 41% from the field, and just 27% from behind the three point line. Caleb Love led the team with 19 points, but he was just 2-9 in the first half, as Carolina goes as Caleb Love goes.

Turnovers really bit the team in the first half, as they committed 10 turnovers, which Pitt turned into 20 points. This team was night and day, from the team we saw on Saturday in the blowout win over Florida State. Last night felt like a loss we’ve seen from Carolina on the road this season, but this one came at home. The Duke loss was disappointing in its own right, but Carolina was outplayed by a better team, with more talent. Pitt isn’t more talented than Carolina, they just simply wanted to win the game more, and with your NCAA hopes on the line, that can’t happen.

The Tar Heels are at a crossroads after last night's loss, with 4 remaining ACC games left in the regular season. Hubert Davis was visibly frustrated with his team after the loss last night, and rightfully so, as he hasn’t been able to get this team to play at a consistent level for the majority of the season. Here’s what to takeaway from last night’s loss at home:

  1. First Half Turnovers: Turnovers have plagued this team all season, and last night they completely took them out of the game. Carolina turned it over 10, giving Pitt 20 points. They scored half of their 40 first half points, off Carolina’s mistakes, and it allowed the Panthers to gain confidence as the game went along. All 5 starters committed at least one turnover in the game, led by Brady Manek’s 4.

  2. Defense: Pitt entered the game averaging just 62 points per game, yet last night, scored 76 points, and shot 51% from the field, and even 58% from behind the arc. You have to credit the opponent for getting good looks at the rim, but ultimately Carolina wasn’t tough enough to take them out of what they wanted to do. Carolina entered last night, holding opponents to under 65 points in Chapel Hill, and last night that got blown out of the water.

  3. Bad Home Offense: Carolina’s offense was taken out of the game, when Brady Manek left the game with his second foul. During Pitt’s 21-2 run, UNC resorted back to playing one on one basketball, and settling for outside jump shots that weren’t falling. After shooting over 70% from the field in the first half against FSU, they shot under 30% in the first half last night. Caleb Love was only 2-9 in the first stanza last night, which really bogged down the team’s energy for the rest of the game.

  4. Respond: UNC is now on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament, after the loss to Pittsburgh. Carolina now has to potentially win out the rest of the regular season, and make a deep run in the upcoming ACC Tournament, to be dancing in March.

Up Next: UNC now has to go on the road to Virginia Tech on Saturday, lloking for a win that will put them back in the NCAA Tournament discussion. The game will start at 4 PM on ESPN2.


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