UNC shook off a slow start to seize control of the game midway through the second half on the way to a convincing 88-71 win over Pitt.
It was the sort of typical slow start we've come to expect from UNC in the first game of the ACC Tournament. Pitt's Jamel Artis hit eight straight points to open up a quick 8-0 lead. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson both drew Roy Williams ire in the first half settling for jumpers instead of backing the defender down. The rebounding was also lackluster leading to probably too much Joel James and Luke Maye. The appearance of Isaiah Hicks paid quick dividends as UNC used a 20-8 run to take a four point lead with 11:06 left.
Pitt responded in kind and eventually took the lead back and extended it to 35-29 with 3:43 left in the half. At that point the Tar Heel defense went into lockdown mode stopping the Panthers on six straight possessions to close the half. The offense did it's job on the other end with Joel Berry scoring four of UNC's final ten points as part of a 10-0 run to head to the locker room up 39-35.
The second half was a pitch battle for the opening ten minutes. UNC produced offensively but also got careless with the ball permitting the Panthers to hang around. After Pitt cut the lead to 57-55 with 10:48 left, UNC opened up an 11-0 run to take complete control of the game. That run was fueled by a Joel Berry three and Kenny Williams' first three point of the season after going 0-12. UNC's balance offense attack slowly grew the lead to as much as 19 points to advance to the ACC Semifinals.
Joel Berry led UNC with 20 points and Brice Johnson recorded his 20th double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Justin Jackson shook off a timid start to finish with 11 points and Isaiah Hicks had 10 points off the bench. Theo Pinson continues to be that energy guy off the bench. He posted seven assists in 13 minutes and was a part of the lineup that shut Pitt down to end the first half. UNC posted an offensive efficiency of 135.0 and shot 59% from the floor.
UNC moves to 26-6 on the season and advances to the ACC Semifinals to face the winner of Notre Dame-Duke.