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Off the cuff: I much preferred watching the ACC Tournament on the ACC Network rather than ESPN. I've gotten so I despise watching Carolina games on ESPN. First, they run the same damn sports news across the bottom scroll. Second, they run Olympic results before I've been able to watch them. (I draped solid tape along the bottom of my TV.) Third, they constantly talk about other games that are coming up and players on those other teams. Fourth, at halftime they spend only about 30 seconds talking about the game that people tuned in to see. Fifth, they inundate us with promos of other games/shows coming up on their network. Sixth, they have too much power dictating when games are played. And finally after a great game, they quickly switch away to Baylor vs. Okla St. They need to schedule games two and a half hours apart not two hours. Remember when Jim Thacker et al would interview players on the court after such games and then talk about the conference implications of the result? Give me CD Chesley and Raycom any day.

Pitt 80, Tar Heels 75
Heels fall in ACC tourney despite rally

North Carolina, manhandled on the boards, fell behind by 20 points and despite a frantic comeback that cut the margin to three late, the Tar Heels fell to Pittsburgh in the ACC quarterfinals 80-75. (3/14)

The Tar Heels never led and were already down by double digits midway through the first half. With six minutes left in the half, the Heels had managed just three baskets in 19 tries and trailed 27-9.

UNC Coach Roy Williams said his team just got too far behind too quickly. "They got to the backboards and they got to the loose balls," he said, adding that Pitt played with a bigger sense of urgency, harkening back to a problem the Heels had before their 12-game win streak.

An 11-5 run over the last three minutes cut the halftime margin to 10 at 39-29 but Carolina started the second half much the way it started the first.

An 11-2 Pittsburgh run in the first eight minutes sealed Carolina's fate as the Panthers extended the lead the lead to 50-31.

The lead extended to 20 at 61-41 with just 7:22 left.

The Tar Heels fought back as Marcus Paige, who led all scorers with 27 points, finally got hot from behind the three-point line but the Heels still trailed by 14 at 71-57 with four minutes left.

With 2:08 left, a Paige three cut the margin under double digits (73-65) for the first time since it was 16-8. But Talib Zanna, who had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, scored seconds later to increase the margin back to 10.

Under pressure, Pittsburgh had a hard time getting the ball up court. After UNC's Brice Johnson scored inside with 1:40 left, the Heels' defense came up with a turnover.

Tar Heel Nate Britt was fouled. He hit both free throws to get the Heels within two possessions at 75-69.

Zanna fouled out and Paige canned two more free throws to cut the lead to four at 75-71 with 1:03 left.

A controversial foul on Paige - the Tar Heel bench thought Pitt's James Robinson traveled and ran over Paige - led to a free throw to extend the margin to 76-71.

After Paige lost the ball trying to split a double team with 50 seconds left, it appeared the Heels were done. A Pitt free throw made it 77-71 but a Johnson tip in cut it back to four at 77-73 with 39 second to go.

Pitt couldn't put it away from the foul ine as the Panthers missed three of four over the next 20 seconds. But by this time, Leslie McDonald, JP Tokoto and Paige had fouled out for Carolina.

Britt hit a long two with 11 seconds to go to cut it to 78-75 but Pitt's Robinson hit a pair of three throws to wrap it up with four seconds left.

"I really thought we were going to come back and win the game," Coach Williams said, adding that he envisioned one of the great comeback wins in Carolina history. "I guess people think I'm wacko."

The Panthers had a large rebound margin most of the game and finished with a 43-35 edge.

Pitt also shot 52 percent compared to just 41 percent for UNC. It was only the second time this season that a Carolina opponent has shot more than 50 percent from the floor. The other time was the previous game at Duke.

Carolina, 23-9, will now wait to see where they will play in the NCAA Tournament. The Heels were expected to be a fifth seed or maybe even a fourth seed with a good performance in the ACC Tournament. After this loss, the Heels might find itself with a tougher first-round draw.


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