Cameron Johnson started out hot in his return to Petersen Events Center, home of his former team. He scored five of the team’s first eight points, and lit up the Panthers from deep in the first half, shooting 3 of 6 from deep and ending the half with 11 points. He cooled off a little as the game went on, but scored on a couple drives to the basket, before ultimately ending the night with 15 points in 30 minutes.
First-year guard Coby White showed off his entire offensive arsenal while scoring 22 points, his second highest scoring output of the season. He shot 4 of 10 from deep on catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble shots, showed off his mid-range jump shot, attacked the basket in transition, and cut well within the flow of the offense. He had his struggles as well, registering five turnovers to just three assists.
When was it decided?
The score was tied at the 13:42 mark of the first half, 12-12. North Carolina started out hot, hitting two 3-pointers and forcing the issue in the middle of the paint to get two layups, but Pittsburgh had countered up to that point by getting to the free-throw line and scoring inside.
After that, the shots stopped falling and the whistle stopped blowing for the Panthers, while North Carolina lit up from deep, making three 3-pointers along with a Luke Maye layup and some free throws to push the lead all the way to 16 on an 18-2 run. After that, Pitt couldn’t find a counter-punch to respond, and the lead swelled to 22 by the end of the half. With the lead firmly in-hand, North Carolina ended up coasting to an 85-60 victory
Why does it matter?
North Carolina handily defeated a young, upstart Pittsburgh team while trying to answer some questions about what UNC looks like as a team. White proved he can still be a legitimate scorer against the pressure of a conference opponent, but still had some issues facilitating the ball and struggled with his turnovers.
Johnson proved he’s going to continue to be North Carolina’s most consistent offensive weapon, scoring earlier and facilitating when the defense played up on him, as well as holding his own on the boards when he played up a position. Maye continued to struggle, despite scoring 17 points, with most of those coming in the second half with the game already in hand. There are questions about how effective Maye and Williams will be this season, but the victory over Pitt showed that the team has options when those two struggle.
When do they play next?
UNC takes on N.C. State on Tuesday in Raleigh at the PNC Arena at 9 p.m.
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