The North Carolina Tar Heels suffered a disappointing 65-64 defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. It was the first home loss of the season for the Heels and the third straight time that Pitt got the best of them. This was not a game they needed to drop heading into Durham on Saturday, but then again, good things happened after last year’s home loss to Pitt.
For the most part, Carolina’s stars did not perform up to their usual standards. However, if there’s a silver lining, it’s the resurgence of Caleb Love. He scored 22 points and six rebounds while shooting 8-18 from the field and 4-11 from three.
Up until the last couple of games, Love had been in a shooting slump. After going 3-5 from deep against Syracuse, he came out hot in this one. He nailed his first two triples early in the game and then took a ridiculous but well-earned heat check that bounced out. Although he attempted some tough shots, I thought that Love did a great job of continuing to play within the offense. When you consider that the rest of the team went 1-16 from outside the arc, it’s hard to complain about Love’s 11 deep tries.
Moreover, Love had some really tough drives to the hoop. He was finishing through contact and, even though he only recorded one assist, he did a nice job of breaking the defense down and forcing the issue.
With just under four minutes remaining, Love hit a step-back three to tie it up that was reminiscent of last year’s tournament. A few minutes later with the Heels up one, Love probably would’ve had a chance to deliver the dagger were it not for an Armando Bacot travel. Although he didn’t get to be the hero in this one, Love is starting to play with a high level of control and confidence.
Pete Nance gets an honorable mention after putting up 13 points and four rebounds and knocking down some crucial shots. Despite recording another double-double (15 and 11), Bacot did not have a great game. He went just 3-10 from the floor and left some points at the free throw line (9-15). RJ Davis, who’s dealing with multiple injuries, simply did not look like himself at all. He scored just 8 points on 3-15 shooting and failed to make a single three (0-6).
While this was a tough loss to swallow, it doesn’t change how I feel about the team’s prospects moving forward. I don’t think anybody wants to see these Tar Heels in March, especially if fully healthy. They must shake this one off quickly and turn the focus towards Saturday, because it’s going to take a complete effort if Carolina wants to knock off Duke in Cameron Indoor.