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Friday January 22nd

Recap: UNC falls to Pittsburgh, 73-65, after Panthers' hot second-half shooting

<p>Pitt forward Justin Champagnie (11) dunks the ball during the game on Wednesday Jan. 8, 2020. UNC lost to Pitt 65-73.&nbsp;</p>
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Pitt forward Justin Champagnie (11) dunks the ball during the game on Wednesday Jan. 8, 2020. UNC lost to Pitt 65-73. 

Pittsburgh used an excellent second half of shooting to hand the North Carolina men’s basketball team its second straight home loss and get a win in Chapel Hill for the first time ever.

In a 73-65 triumph, the Panthers shot 14 of 24from the field, and eight of 12 from 3-point range, in the second half to again keep head coach Roy Williams from passing Dean Smith in all-time NCAA Division I wins.

Garrison Brooks (21), Armando Bacot (15) and Brandon Robinson (13) were the top scorers for the Tar Heels, who dropped to 8-7 and 1-3 in the ACC.

What happened?

After a 96-83 loss to Georgia Tech, UNC started this one with a sense of urgency.

The Tar Heels double-teamed Pittsburgh on pick and rolls and played with pace on offense. The results — a 14-10 lead through six minutes — weren’t groundbreaking, but they were a deliberate attempt at the effort players admitted wasn’t there on Saturday.

As UNC settled in, points came a bit easier. Two short runs led by Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot and Jeremiah Francis, combined with a Pittsburgh 1-8 shooting slump, brought its lead to 25-16 and forced a Panthers timeout.

The lead ballooned up to 14 after senior guard Brandon Robinson hit his second 3-pointer of the game. And although Pittsburgh chipped into its deficit a bit to end the half, UNC still led 37-28.

In the beginning of the second half, UNC suffered another injury on the season after Robinson collided with sophomore Pitt guard Trey McGowens, although the senior guard later returned to the game after a trip to the locker room. 

Pittsburgh cut the lead down to just three after back-to-back steals from McGowens led to two wide-open looks, resulting in two made free throws and a layup for the Panthers. Pitt would take its first lead since the 16:12 minute mark in the first quarter after Brooks got caught between shooting and dribbling and was called for double dribbling. 

The two teams would go back and fourth as Pittsburgh found its shooting stroke from deep and UNC continued to make offense with its offensive rebounding. 

The Panthers would go on to take an eight point lead with a little over five minutes left in the half after some timely 3-pointers and turnovers by UNC. North Carolina would cut the lead to four with two minutes left, with a chance to whittle it down to one, but Francis missed a wide-open 3 and UNC gave up an and-one on the other end to seal the game for the Panthers. 

Who stood out?

Armando Bacot, after a rough stretch of games following Cole Anthony's injury where he shot just 23.7 percent from the floor, bounced back nicely against a Panthers team that lacked the big men to slow him down or keep him off the boards. The first-year forward had 15 points on 6-11 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. 

Brooks once again led the team in scoring with 21 points on 9-12 shooting and a team-high 10 rebounds. 

Pittsburgh guard Justin Champagnie, who entered the game shooting 22.4 percent from three, made four of seven for the Panthers. Fellow guard Trey McGowens (24 points) also played well.

When was it decided?

The Panthers went on a 13-3 run to push their lead to eight, their largest of the game at the time. North Carolina never regained the lead, cutting it down to as low as four, but whiffed on a last-minute opportunity from Francis allowing Pittsburgh to close out the game. 

Why does it matter?

Head coach Roy WIlliams was denied win No. 880, the number needed to pass his mentor Dean Smith for sole possession of fourth all time on the NCAA Division I wins list.

North Carolina, which is in the midst of four straight games at the Smith Center, failed to defend its territory, moving to 4-4 at home this season. The team hadn’t dropped more than four home games since 2014-15, when it went 10-5 at home.

When do they play next?

North Carolina plays Clemson in the Smith Center on Saturday.

The Tar Heels are undefeated against the Tigers at home, with a program record of 59-0 in Chapel Hill against Clemson, the longest home streak against a single opponent in the history of college basketball.

@bg_keyes | @chapelfowler

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