Jan 31, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) drives to the basket as Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) defends in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Panthers 80-78 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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UNC survives a scare in the Dean Dome just days after losing on the road to Miami
On a night where both teams shot over 50 percent from the field, there was plenty of shots to go down. But when it was all said and done, the North Carolina Tar Heels outlasted one final run by Pittsburgh to win 80-78.
Carolina, who never trailed in the game, faced a zone defense for the third-straight game.
They struggled early on to find their shot but eventually connected on 9-of-24 threes and utilized their size down low to break in the zone.
Pitt entered the game last in the ACC at 1-7 but seemed to find their groove in Chapel Hill. A team that had lost six-straight in ACC play, sure didn’t look like the bottom feeder of the league.
Hitting only 3-of-11 threes in the first half, they erupted for 10 threes in the second, tying a season high in threes made, finishing 13-of-29 from behind the arc.
A career-night for Cameron Johnson who led the Panthers with 24 points, shot 6-of-9 from three. Helping pace Pitt was their senior duo of Michael Young (19 pts and 10 reb) and Jamel Artis (17 pts 5 ast).
Finishing the double-digit scorers was Chris Jones who added 12.
Carolina seemed to play lackluster defense for most of the game, which has been their downfall all year. That lack of intensity never allowed the lead to grow larger than 10 and allowed Pitt to get very comfortable on the offensive end.
One of the other parts of Carolina’s game that has haunted them this year is turnovers. The Heels finished with only 9 in tonight’s game, the first time having single digit turnovers since the Northern Iowa game all the way back in December.
The Heels had a balanced scoring attack all night long. Joel Berry got the scoring started as he hit his first shot of the game, bouncing back from his 0-of-8 shooting performance against Miami.
He finished with 19 points and 3 assists.
Justin Jackson continues to lead the Heels game in and game out. He finished with a team high 20 points and 6 rebounds.
Isaiah Hicks had one of his best games all year as he finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds while playing a career high 33 minutes.
Rounding out the scoring for the Tar Heels was Kennedy Meeks with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
One nerve racking moment for Carolina fan was when Kenny Williams pulled himself out of the game after suffering an ankle injury late in the second half.