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MENS BASKETBALL


North Carolina 70, Pittsburgh 57

North Carolina 70, Pittsburgh 57

BY WILL GRAVES
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTSBURGH - Armando Bacot had 16 points and 10 rebounds, RJ Davis added 15 points and four assists, and No. 8 North Carolina pulled away from Pittsburgh 70-57.

The Tar Heels (10-3, 2-0 ACC) used Davis’ shot-making and their size advantage to muscle their way past the Panthers (9-5, 0-3). North Carolina outrebounded Pitt 51-41 and had a 15-1 advantage in second-chance points to beat Pitt for just the second time in their last seven meetings.

Bub Carrington led the Panthers with 20 points and Jaland Lowe added 10 but senior forward Blake Hinson was held to 11 points — eight below his average — on 4-of-16 shooting as Pitt lost its second straight.

Davis gave the Tar Heels the lead for good with a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer and North Carolina simply wore down the Panthers. There was no big run, just a steady smothering of Pitt on defense and enough shot-making to win comfortably in a series that’s been defined by tight finishes in recent years.

Not this time. The Panthers could muster little offense outside of Carrington and Lowe in the second half as Hinson misfired and twin centers Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Graham had trouble defensively against the stronger Tar Heels.

Bacot effectively ended things with a putback dunk with 3:41 to play. The longtime North Carolina forward added a pair of free throws shortly thereafter to become the seventh player in program history to reach 2,000 career points.

The Panthers missed a chance to create some breathing room early as the Tar Heels missed their first 10 shots. Yet a series of open 3-point looks failed to fall and North Carolina eventually found its footing behind Davis. His contested 3-pointer just before the break put the Tar Heels in front and when he hit another one a moment into the second half, North Carolina was comfortably in control.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: Davis and Bacot give the Tar Heels one of the better inside/outside combinations in the country. Harrison Ingram is showing Bacot doesn’t have to do it alone inside. Ingram had 15 rebounds to help North Carolina control the glass on a night when he went just 2 of 14 from the field to finish with seven points.

Pitt: The Panthers began the season eager to prove their return to the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2016 was no fluke. They will need more from their frontcourt if they want to make another trip to March Madness a reality. Pitt has yet to figure out how to win when Hinson can’t get going.






Champion


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