NCAA basketball has produced some great games this year and North Carolina’s most recent was no different. They had an end-to-end barn burner with the Pittsburgh Panthers. The contest finished 80-78 after Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II came through in the clutch. Relying on three-point shots has mainly been the issue for the Tar Heels as of late. After losing to Miami 77-62, this is the win that helps validate themselves because of the tough stretch they have coming up. No. 20 ranked Notre Dame followed by fierce ACC Rival no. 21 ranked Duke is their next 2 matchups. Then UNC goes on the road for a rematch against NBA Lottery prospect Dennis Smith Jr. and NC State.
North Carolina vs Pittsburgh
Coming off a disheartening loss to Miami, UNC looked to recover their form. Pittsburgh had been struggling all season losing 6 straight before this game but looked up to the task. Cameron Johnson, their star guard, performed mightily dropping 24 points and adding six three-pointers. Carolina also had a tough time containing senior Michael Young as he scored 19 points with 10 rebounds. You can say the three-point line has been the determining factor in most close games for North Carolina. In this game, they gave up 13 threes and the defense really struggled. Theo Pinson getting injured also hindered their chances against Pittsburgh. Penson is so adept at playing the middle of opponents 2-3 zone they use it less when he’s on the floor. If Pinson can come back healthy these next stretch of games things could get easier for these Tar Heels.
Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson showed why they are big-time talents. When the game got tight they seemed to make all the winning plays. Berry made an and-1 layup with 1:38 left to pull ahead 73-76 after a jumper from Jamel Artis closed the gap to 1 point. After a big three from Artis, Pitt was once again down 1 but Justin Jackson closed the door shut with a slither and layup. Baltimore native Jamel Artis played well scoring 17 points and has been averaging 20 ppg all season. With front court of duo Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks adding 28 combined points, North Carolina should be feeling better for this tough road ahead.
Upcoming UNC schedule
Roy Williams and his Tar Heels have one of the toughest remaining schedules due to a tough ACC conference. With eight games remaining before the ACC tournament, six of those teams are ranked in the top 25. With two games still to play against the rival Duke Blue Devils, Coach Williams will need the best out his team. Notre Dame at home is their next matchup and they have been slumping lately. After losing four of their last five, this is the type of game teams get up for especially on the road. They will look to close out the shooters of Carolina who hasn’t been consistently making shots as of late.
Theo Pinson has been the energy guy off the bench for UNC and will not play in their next game with a right ankle injury. With this news airing, impact players like Kenny Williams and Tony Bradley will have to step up big. Another player to watch out for is senior guard Nate Britt. While playing big minutes next to Joel Berry he must improve his play to help North Carolina take the next step.