Pitt Overpowers UNC 66-52; Complete Season Sweep
[Pittsburgh,PA]Fresh off their tough OT loss to Louisville, the Pitt Panthers were hoping to rebound against a team that they had just beaten 10 days ago in the North Carolina Tar Heels. And they got just what the Doctor ordered in a 66-52 victory in front of 12,376 patrons at the Petersen Events Center.
The latest victory in combination with the win over UNC on January 8, provides the Panthers with their first-ever sweep of the Tar Heels.
“First of all, I’m proud of our team.” Said Pitt head coach Jeff Capel. “We needed a win, and I thought we played really, really well in the first half, got off to a great start. I though the energy in the building was outstanding, and we are grateful to the fans, especially the students in the Oakland Zoo for their energy, their passion. I thought we fed off each other.”
Xavier Johnson led the Panthers with 20 points, and 6 assists. He did what the scouting reports said he could do in this game: Take control. He only turned the ball over 2 times and was 10-12 from the free-throw line, he also added 2 Three-pointers.Ryan Murphy added 13 points and led Pitt with three 3-pointers. His impact off the bench gave the Panthers much-needed energy as they maintained a lead after falling behind 5-2 early in the game. Terrell Brown and Au’Dese Toney also added 9 points. Toney also led Pitt with 7 rebounds.
The Panthers strength was their hustle in the first half. They went after the Tar Heels with a
game-leading 11 steals (Murphy with 3) and 6 blocks (Brown with 3) even Johnson had a huge one that stunned the Tar Heels and brought the home crowd to their feet.
Once again, the Tar Heels were without guard Cole Anthony, due to injury. Anthony (19.1 PPG) missed both games vs. the Panthers.
After taking a commanding 56-36 halftime lead, the Tar Heels (8-9, 1-5 ACC) attempted a
comeback, as they trimmed Pitt’s deficit to 10 with over 2 minutes left thanks to missed baskets by the Panthers and key points by the Tar Heels Garrison Brooks who led his team with 16 points and 13 rebounds (the Tar Heels had a game-leading 43). Brandon Robinson also added 3 three-pointers before fouling out and Armando Bacot added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Panthers didn’t buckle and eventually secured the victory and will hope to keep the
winning streak going as they host Boston College Wednesday evening.
“We were selfless, we shared the basketball, and I thought our defense was good. Said Capel
“Our defense helped energize our offense. Then we get to the second half, and I thought we played a little bit safe…but again, proud of my team, proud of the way we were able to step up and get way in our third in the conference and look to build off of this.”
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