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UNC 96, Pitt 65: Tar Heels get back on track

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Carolina ended their losing streak with an emphatic win at home.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Through much of the first half, this game looked worryingly like a repeat of some recent others. Pitt was knocking down threes. UNC was playing well on the offensive end, but they were stuck trading the lead back and forth with the worst team in the conference.

With four minutes left in the half, the Panthers’ Marcus Carr made a desperation three just before the shot clock expired to cut Tar Heels’ lead to one. Shortly after that, Pitt made a layup to go in front. They would score just eight points in the next 11 minutes of game action.

UNC closed the first half on a 14-2 run and opened the second half on a 22-6 one. By the time the game hit the under-12 timeout in the second half, the Tar Heels were up over 20 and never looked back. The lead only got bigger from there as Carolina cruised to a 96-65 win over Pitt.

The thing that has obviously harmed UNC the most in recent games has been the three-point defense. At least percentage wise, there was an improvement there. Pitt went 10-30 from three. However, UNC held them to just 2-16 in the second half, after their early outburst in the first 20 minutes.

The other problem that Tar Heels have had at times this season has been turnovers, but that also wasn’t much of a factor. UNC finished with 11 turnovers, but five of them came in the second half after the game was already put away.

Nearly everything worked on the offensive end for Carolina. The ball movement was pretty good, evidenced by the fact that they finished with 29 assists on 36 made field goals. They shot 51% from the field and 41% from three.

Luke Maye led the team in scoring again, going for 26 points on 9-15 shooting. He not only finished with eight rebounds, but also five assists.

Five other Tar Heels finished with double digit points. Kenny Williams went for 15 on 6-9 shooting. Cameron Johnson and Joel Berry scored 14 and 12, but neither had their most efficient games. The freshman big duo of Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley each finished with 10, as well.

One person who didn’t go for double digit points but still deserves plenty of praise is Theo Pinson. The senior scored just two points, but had 13 rebounds and eights assists. The two points were pretty good, too.

After the last three games, it’s good for UNC just to get back in the win column. To do so in such emphatic fashion is also a plus. The flip side is that it was only Pitt, who are clearly the worst team in the conference.

The relief that this game will bring can certainly get flipped in a hurry if they don’t play well Thursday night. It’s still good to have that losing streak over, though.