CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Pitt saw its 21-point second half lead diminish, but held off a comeback from the North Carolina Tar Heels to win its third straight game.
Five Panthers scored in double digits Wednesday night as Pitt beat UNC 76-67 in the Dean Smith Center in front of a crowd made up of mostly disappointed Carolina fans.
With the victory, Pitt (11-16; 6-10 ACC) now has its longest winning streak of the season. Pitt last won three straight ACC games in January 2021. Pitt also now has six ACC wins on the season, which ties the Panthers’ high in a single season under Capel.
Leading the Panthers was Ithiel Horton, who scored 19 points, shooting an impressive 5 of 5 from three-point range. Horton also added five rebounds.
Additionally for the Panthers, John Hugley had 18 points, Jamarius Burton tallied 14 points and seven rebounds, and Mouhamadou Gueye notched 11 points and two blocks, and Femi Odukale had 10 points along with a season-best nine assists.
After trailing 12-8 early, Pitt put UNC on its heels, breaking off a 21-2 run over about five minutes midway through the first half. The stretch gave Pitt 29-14 lead, and was powered by some sharp shooting from Horton, who knocked down three straight shots from behind the arc. Horton’s first came from the top of the key with a hand in his face, his second in the left corner via an assist from Femi Odukale, and his third was sank in transition.
After UNC called a timeout after Horton’s third three-pointer, Pitt kept draining shots from outside. Out of the timeout, Gueye drained two deep shots, both on assists from Odukale. By halftime, the Panthers led by 17 points. In the second half, Pitt grew its lead to as many as 21 points.
As a team, Pitt finished the game shooting 58.8% from three-point land, its best mark of the season.
North Carolina struggled shooting for most of the game. The Tar Heels finished with a 41.4% shooting mark from the floor and 26.9% from three-point range.
UNC went on runs of 12-4 and 10-2 late in the second half, but Pitt was able to hold the Heels off. UNC outscored Pitt 44-36 in the second half, but couldn’t quite tie the game up, cutting the deficit to only six points.
Caleb Love led North Carolina with 19 points. Brady Manek had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
This is the only regular season meeting between the Tar Heels and Panthers this year. UNC still leads the all-time series 15-6, but Pitt is 3-2 against UNC under Capel.
Pitt will aim for its fourth straight victory on Saturday at home when it hosts Georgia Tech.