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Off the cuff: North Carolina didn't play poorly against Pittsburgh. The Tar Heels would have beaten most teams. Carolina has to hope they get another shot at Pittsburgh. I'm not sure Kentucky would have beaten the Panthers on this day.

I'm not sure how the death of Dean Smith played into the Tar Heels loss - probably not much. But I'm sure plenty of Carolina fans were still dwelling on Smith's death.

I have written several articles about Smith's death including these below.

Dean Smith to me

Dean Smith's funeral: My day in Chapel Hill

Pitt 89, Tar Heels 76
Pitt can't miss as tough times continue

Pittsburgh shot a blistering 65 percent to handle North Carolina 89-76. The Panthers were just too hot for a Tar Heels team that has lost three of four and has been grieving the loss of former Coach Dean Smith, whose funeral was two days earlier. (2/14)

North Carolina outrebounded Pitt, turned the ball over only four times and shot nearly 50 percent.

"Looking at that you would think that would be a win for us," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

But the Panthers jumped out to a 10-0 lead and, despite the fact that the Tar Heels managed to tie it on a three by Marcus Paige to make it 16-16, led the Tar Heels 46-32 at the half.

Pitt shot 61 percent in the first half and conventional wisdom says the Panthers would cool down in the second half. It was just the opposite.

"I still thought it was any man's game (at the half)," Williams said, "but then they hit their first seven shots (of the second half)."

For a while the Tar Heels were matching the Panthers basket for basket but still falling more and more behind because Pitt was hitting threes. The Panthers hit eight of 15 from beyond the arc.

A Chris Jones triple gave Pitt its largest lead of the game at 74-50 midway through the second half.

Jones, who scored 10, was just one of six Pittsburgh players in double figures with Sheldon Jeter leading the way with a season-high 22 points.

The Tar Heels outscored the Panthers 23-13 over the last seven minutes to make the final score more respectable but the outcome never felt in doubt in the second half.

"They shot the ball better than they have all year long," Williams said. "Our defense helped with that. But they made a bunch of shots and they should be congratulated for that."

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said his team, which has won four of their last five games, is playing much better. "We're a different team than we were earlier in the year," he said. "Today we were moving the ball well and knocking down shots."

North Carolina was led by Brice Johnson, who scored 19, and Kennedy Meeks, who scored 15.

The Tar Heels, who play at rival Duke Wednesday, falls to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in the ACC while the Panthers improve to 17-9 and 6-6 in the league.


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