When the North Carolina men’s basketball team went down 21 points to Pittsburgh with nine minutes left to play, the Dean E. Smith Center was feeling extra blue. But with just around two minutes left in the game, the Tar Heels were suddenly within six points.
Fans were out of their seats, rallying desperately behind the Heels, in hopes of avoiding a deflating loss to one of the bottom teams in the conference.
And it wasn't enough.
Despite sophomore Caleb Love scoring 15 points in the last five minutes of the game, UNC fell short, losing 76-67. Pitt held a steady lead for most of the game, leading 40-23 at halftime. The Panthers more than doubled UNC’s shooting percentage at half, with 60 percent compared to UNC’s 28 percent. For the game, Pitt was almost 60 percent from behind the arc, while UNC was at 27 percent.
“We weren’t making shots and they were,” Love said. “We dug ourselves a hole, and it was too deep. We tried to come back late, and there was just not enough time on the clock.”
Love noted that the team was shooting a lot of jumpers in the first half, rather than getting to the rim and finishing around the basket.
Pitt entered the game as the lowest-scoring team in the ACC on the season. But Thursday night, the Panthers played like they had something to prove.
“At the end of the day, we gotta find a way to get stops,” senior Leaky Black said. “I felt like they were scoring at will on us from start to finish.”
Head coach Hubert Davis said that he had identified and communicated three things the team needed and will need moving forward — defense in the first half, rebounding and taking care of the basketball.