By Adam Lucas
1. Well that was painful in every possible way, as Pitt wins, 65-64.
2. One of the biggest problems Carolina has against Pitt is that the Panthers have the Tar Heels very well scouted. After going ahead 65-64, Pitt did a very good job of cutting off what Carolina wanted to do, which was throwing it to midcourt and call timeout. instead, RJ Davis had to dribble to midcourt, leaving just 0.6 seconds for the final play. That’s part of the reason why Pitt has infuriatingly won five of six in the series and three straight at the Smith Center, becoming just the third team to do so along with Duke and Wake.
3. A hot streak from Nelly Cummings essentially provided enough offense for Pitt to win the game. Cummings caught fire from three to push Pitt out to a seven-point lead, and Carolina just couldn’t make enough shots to catch up. Before fouling out, Cummings went 8-for-11 from the field for his 21 points.
4. The Heels didn’t shoot it well at all from anywhere. The Tar Heels converted 34.8 percent from the field, 18.5 percent from three and 59.1 percent from the free throw line. None of those marks are good enough to win that kind of game.
5. That shooting was even with a better performance from Caleb Love, who made 8-for-18 and 4-for-11 from three for his 22 points. That means the rest of the team combined to go 1-for-16 from three, as RJ Davis pretty clearly was bothered by the finger injury sustained before the break.
6. Pitt was successful in the first half in pushing Armando Bacot away from the basket. Playing physically with an unpredictable officiating crew, they limited him to 1-for-5 from the field. They did send him to the line seven times in those first 20 minutes, but he made just four, which is probably a ratio they can live with as compared to him converting two-point shots at a high rate. Bacot drew a whopping 11 fouls, but had “only” 15 points to go with his 11 rebounds.
7. Both teams went into the halftime locker room feeling like their stars almost certainly had a better performance in the second half. Bacot and RJ Davis combined to go 2-for-12, while Pitt’s Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson went 2-for-9. Leaky Black did a solid job on Burton, who did most of his damage when Black was out. Burton finished 6-for-18 from the floor after going 14-for-17 in Pittsburgh.
8. That first half was likely the going scouting report on how to beat Carolina. Make them play one on one (three assists on 11 shots), limit Armando Bacot’s touches (Bacot’s five shots were the fourth-most on the team), and hope they don’t catch fire from the outside (Carolina was 4-for-13 from three and 30.6 percent from the field overall). The Tar Heels weren’t very good at sharing the ball in all 40 minutes–they had six assists on 23 baskets.
9. Carolina wasn’t very efficient with offensive rebounding. The Tar Heels did get 13 offensive boards on 25 misses, meaning they were grabbing over half of their errant shots. But they turned that into just six points. For the game, the Heels had a very good 19 offensive rebounds, but scored just 13 points off them.
10. Some really good defensive minutes from Seth Trimble in the first half. Against a team that’s tough to defend, Trimble came into the game and collected a blocked shot (which he seemed to have a knack for) and also drew an offensive foul.
11. Carolina was again without Puff Johnsonwho is recovering from a sore knee.
12. Carolina included an acknowledgment of Jason Capel in the pregame lineups, who then repaid the favor for the second straight year by standing on the court after the game and providing some colorful commentary.
13. Great Wednesday night crowd at the Smith Center. Pitt earned that road win in front of a rowdy crowd.