CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Ahead by eight points with five minutes to play, no one was ready to declare Pitt the winner in its men’s basketball game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday. There was still plenty of time for Pitt to do Pitt things.
But, to the surprise of many, Pitt never relinquished that lead. And with 22 seconds left, unhappy Tar Heels fans began shuffling out of their seats.
Jeff Capel’s Panthers held on in the Dean Smith Center for an 73-65 victory Wednesday night, giving Pitt its first-ever win in Chapel Hill in eight tries. The win also broke a streak of six straight losses to Roy Williams’ Tar Heels.
And the triumph is Pitt’s first ACC road win since Feb. 8, 2017, when the Panthers won at Boston College.
Leading Pitt was Trey McGowens, who totaled 24 points, six rebounds and eight assists in 39 minutes of play. Xavier Johnson added 17 points, and Justin Champagnie tallied 22 points and eight rebounds.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 9, 2020
Champagnie had a lot to do with getting Pitt (11-4; 2-2 ACC) back into the game though, and putting them in a position to win the contest.
At the 14:02 mark in the second half, with Pitt trailing by five points, the 6-foot-6 freshman from Brooklyn, New York began to find his shooting touch from behind the arc. Champagnie knocked down the first of what would be four three-pointers in the span of about four minutes. With his fourth at the 10:10 mark, Pitt led by a point. Champagnie finished the night shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range.
As a team, Pitt shot much better in the second half. In the first, they knocked down just 1-of-10 from three-point land and shot 32.1 percent from the floor overall. The only team to shoot worse than that mark in a half against UNC (8-7; 1-3 ACC) this season was Virginia. But Pitt doesn’t quite have the defensive expertise to make up for their offensive mistakes like the ‘Hoos do, and so, Pitt trailed by nine points at halftime.
In the second half, Pitt shot 8-of-12 from behind the arc and 58.3 percent from the floor.
The Panthers also won the turnover battle, coughing up 13 possessions to UNC’s 17. Pitt was dominated on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 42-27, but that ultimately didn’t matter.
Pitt will look for its second straight ACC win on Sunday, traveling to Miami to take on the Hurricanes.