North Carolina knew exactly what Pitt was going to bring.
The Panthers clawed their way back to win the season’s first meeting in December — a contest in which Pittsburgh led for less than four minutes.
In what turned into a fiery affair — featuring an assortment of individual muscle flexes and a double technical foul — the Tar Heels came up short yet again Wednesday night, 65-64.
“It’s always a close game with them,” senior forward Armando Bacot said. “They just don’t quit, and they don’t give up. They go down, and they just keep chipping away and chipping away.”
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to unleash their feisty play.
After junior guard RJ Davis tightly defended Pitt's Nelly Cummings for the near duration of the shot clock, the shifty guard found a crease behind a ball screen. Cummings swished home the 3-point shot and proceeded to flash a trio of fingers as he waltzed — and talked — his way down the court.
The Panthers extended their confident play inside the post. Using an array of primary defenders, Pittsburgh forced Bacot to receive entry passes multiple feet from the paint. In the first half, the center only converted one of his five field goal attempts.
“(Pittsburgh) had like four bodies in there, and they just kept throwing bodies at me,” Bacot said. “I guess you can say they kind of wore me down.”
While North Carolina’s top scorer struggled, Caleb Love began to light it up from distance.