ACC Basketball

Tar Heels embarrassed in Pittsburgh

Jared Wickerham / Getty Images North America

There is struggling defensively and then there is simply refusing the play defense. If you watched just five minutes of North Carolina’s 89-76 loss to Pittsburgh, you know the latter was the truth Saturday afternoon.

The Tar Heels were flat-footed, struggled to stop the Panthers smaller frontline and left way too many open on lazy double teams. Pittsburgh shot a stunning 64% from the floor, nearly 70% from two, first opening up a 10-0 lead to start the game and then began the second half scoring on 11 of 12 possessions to blow open the game, maintaining a 20-point lead or greater until Jamie Dixon put the brakes on in the final minutes.

Granted, with the Panthers nailing eight three pointers, you know it’s a good day, but it seemed like no one was having an off game. Sheldon Jeter, who finished with a team high 22 points, couldn’t miss from mid-range, while Cameron Wright was my MVP, scoring 15 and dishing out 10 assists, starting in place of Josh Newkirk. James Robinson added eight assists as Pittsburgh had a solid 30 assists on their 37 baskets. That’s how you win basketball, folks.

Like expected, North Carolina was pretty damn good inside, as Brice Johnson scored 19, while Kennedy Meeks came off the bench to contribute 15. The Tar Heels’ bigs shot 16-23 from the field, but without stops on the other end, swapping baskets from behind wasn’t good enough and North Carolina simply doesn’t have the shooters to rally (hitting just 4-15 from deep).

Heading into their game with Duke, the Tar Heels are struggling, having now dropped three of four and can probably kiss a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament goodbye.

For Pittsburgh, it’s their fourth win in five games and their second over a top-20 team. At 17-9 and sitting at .500 in the ACC, they have once again positioned themselves as the best shot for the conference to get a sixth bid in the NCAA Tournament. A road win next at Virginia would seal it, but that’s unlikely.

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