The last time the Pittsburgh men’s basketball team came to Chapel Hill was Jan. 31, 2017. In that game, Cameron Johnson scored 24 points for the Panthers as North Carolina edged out an 80-78 win.
What a difference a year makes.
On Saturday night, No. 19 UNC (17-7, 6-5 ACC) breezed past Pittsburgh (8-16, 0-11 ACC) in a 96-65 win to break its three-game losing streak.
This year, however, Johnson was sporting a lighter shade of blue.
After graduating from Pittsburgh in three years this past spring, Johnson announced his intention to transfer to UNC. But Pittsburgh’s graduate transfer policy prohibited transfers from being immediately eligible to play at another ACC school or any other non-ACC school on the team’s schedule.
With two years left of eligibility to play, Pittsburgh wanted Johnson to sit out for a full year at UNC.Amid controversy, the school released Johnson to play for the Tar Heels at the beginning of last June.
After coming off a career-high 32 points against Clemson on Tuesday night, the stage was set for Johnson to take on his former team.
“He’s been shooting the ball well,” head coach Roy Williams said. “I told him to pretend that it's just another game, because that is what it is.”
A minute and a half into the game, Johnson was fouled and made one free throw to put himself on the board. Then, with a little over nine minutes remaining, Johnson made his presence known with a dunk to put UNC up one point, 20-19.