PITTSBURGH — Following its home win over Duke, the Pitt men’s basketball team has dropped two consecutive contests, including Tuesday night’s 75-65 setback to North Carolina at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt (8-4, 4-3 ACC) was led once again by Justin Champagnie, who achieved his sixth double-double of the season with his 23 points on a 7-of-9 shooting performance from the field and 10 rebounds. Champagnie has reached double figures in each contest this season.
Additionally, Ithiel Horton scored 12 points. As a team Pitt assisted on 17 of 23 baskets.
UNC (11-5, 6-3 ACC) saw Armando Bacot’s double-double consisting of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Garrison Brooks added 16 points and Kerwin Walton notched 10 points of his own. UNC had 22 assists and 48 points in the paint on the evening.
Early, on the lead changed hands seven different occasions as both teams were able to offensively run its plays to succession.
During the stretch, Champagne nailed two three-point shots and Abdoul Karim Coulibaly added three points as he was able to avoid picking up an early second foul.
North Carolina was able to use both its height and length to create an advantage.
After the first media timeout, Pitt hit an offensive dry spell being held without a field goal for 8:24 of opening-half action which allowed UNC to dictate play. Its ball movement and paint positioning created edges which Pitt was not able to consistently answer.
Horton broke Pitt’s drought with a three-point basket and after grabbing a rebound called his own number to string baskets together which cut the deficit to one point before UNC’s ball movement led to a high-percentage score.
When Walton added a three-point field goal of his own, UNC’s advantage was back up to six points. That advantage remained fairly consistent heading to halftime where the visitors held a 34-27 advantage.
Champagnie had an early one-handed tomahawk dunk over a crashing UNC defender and on Pitt’s next trip down the court, he found Coulibaly for a layup cutting the deficit to four points as the Tar Heels a timeout.
Immediately UNC went back to work as Bacot converted a three-point play. In addition to the basket, Pitt had to sub Coulibaly out as he picked up his third foul of the contest, meaning it was on Terrell Brown to defend the post.
Brown initially got off to a quick start, bringing Pitt its third dunk of the half. Brown was then beat on the defensive end on a 50-50 rebound which led to a UNC score.
Horton briefly got Pitt back to within four points before the Panthers got hit with more foul trouble as both Brown and Champagne would join Coulibaly with three fouls.
Brown would not pick up his third foul until getting beaten for another offensive rebound and getting blocked by a UNC defender. He would be replaced by Max Amadasun who was seeing his first game action since Dec. 12 vs Gardner-Webb. He saw 48 seconds on the court in that game.
Though Coulibaly returned a couple of minutes later, it did not change the fact that UNC’s offense had little trouble moving the ball and even though Pitt’s shots were falling it could not keep up the pace nor do much in terms of aggression due to the foul trouble.
UNC extended the lead to 16 points but Pitt refused to give up using a 10-0 run in 3:08 to bring the score to within seven points.
Up five points, UNC’s Caleb Love hit a three-point shot putting the Tar Heels back on top by eight. UNC was able to contain Pitt and secure its third consecutive win.
Pitt’s next contest is a Saturday-evening home affair with Notre Dame that will tip off at 8 p.m. on ACC Network.