The North Carolina Tar Heels played a complete game to beat the the Pitt Panthers by more than twenty.
The North Carolina Tar Heels held up their end of the bargain as they beat the Pitt Panthers convincingly in Chapel Hill at a score of 85-64. That will mean that both Duke and North Carolina will be bringing their best games into their Wednesday night showdown at Chapel Hill. Against Pitt, the Heels showed the ability to act on some of the weaknesses that had been on display against Notre Dame.
The first thing that was better was the aggressiveness. Where Notre Dame and even Boston College had found ways to attack Tar Heel defenders on the drive, Pitt was not able to take advantage of this. This is because on ball defense was a much more trapping and engaging style from the Heels. If the Panthers did manage to penetrate, fouls often greeted them as opposed to open baskets. The increased aggressiveness also created more turnovers, allowing the Tar Heels to play their game.
Ball movement on offense was also better against the Panthers. The Heels mostly took smart shots throughout the game. Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson made three point shots, but they were smart shots. Neither simply let it rip because there was nothing there. Brice Johnson scored nineteen points, but part of that was being put in good position by the teammates around him.
Johnson was awarded the Player of the Game honor by the Raycom announcing crew, but that honor should probably have gone to Jackson. He is picking up his game at the right time and his drives into the lane kept the Pitt defense off balance since that had not been a big part of conference play.
The ugly number in the victory was the disparity of offensive rebounds. While the Panthers corralled sixteen of those rebounds, the Tar Heels had only a single one. That is an unusual statistic for a team as good in the front court as the Tar Heels are. Pitt is known for scrappy play, but giving up that kind of rebound advantage could really hurt against another team like perhaps Duke.
Speaking of Duke, the Tar Heels will face them on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill late (9:00 PM).