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Off the cuff: Maybe we'll learn more about Louisville coach Rick Pitino getting bent out of shape at the half. ESPN reported that Pitino was angry at a Carolina student fan for yelling "Pitino sucks" at him.

The fan got kicked out of his seat. I certainly hope he was just moved because that seems a harsh punishment if ESPN is reporting the incident correctly. I mean when Indiana came to Carolina once, half of the students could have been throw out for yelling such things (and worse) at Coach Bobby Knight.

As for the game, neither team shot particularly well and Louisville had trouble from the foul line (only four of 13) but that was a high-level game and a big one. Louisville would have taken first place by virtual of a tie-breaker had the Cardinals won. Instead, Carolina is in a good spot to win the conference regular season title. With tie breakers over Louisville, Florida State and Notre Dame, if Carolina wins just one more game, only Duke could catch the Tar Heels.

Duke's loss at Syracuse means that Carolina has to lose all three games or two, including the regular season finale against Duke, for the Tar Heels to drop to second going into the ACC tournament.

Tar Heels 74, Louisville 63
Tar Heels pull away to win a big one

Justin Jackson's 21 points led four North Carolina double-figure scorers as the Tar Heels pulled away from Louisville in the second half to remain in first place in the ACC with a 74-63 victory. (2/22)

Jackson hit four three-pointers including a long one at the end of the shot clock with 4:39 left that put a dagger in the No. 7 Cardinals. "Jackson's big threes again were huge for us," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

Louisville was going for first place in the ACC but fell two games behind the Tar Heels with Carolina now holding the tie breaker. "The crowd was really into it," Coach Williams said. "It's exciting to play that kind of a basketball game."

Pretty much every game from now on will be that kind of a game as the Heels travel to Pittsburgh Saturday, to Virginia Monday and close the regular season at home against Duke March 4. Of course then they'll be in the ACC tourney and the NCAA tourney.

"We have a two-game lead right now but we still have some to play," Coach Williams said. "It feels good being on top but there's still a lot of work to do."

Jackson said the team really isn't paying any attention to the ACC regular season title right now. "We have to play these three games as hard as we can," he said. "We're the only team that can control their own destiny."

Retaining first place seemed in doubt early as Louisville got out to a 10-4 lead and only trailed the Tar Heels by three, 33-30, at the half.

Carolina, which had lead by as many as just six in the first half after a Joel Berry three, got the margin to seven early in the second half when Jackson stepped behind a Kennedy Meeks screen for a three, making it 40-33.

But Louisville went on a 7-0 run to tie it at 40. Carolina then went on a 13-3 run midway through the second half to race out to a double-digit lead at 53-43. A three that rolling around the rim before falling in for Theo Pinson was the highlight during the run.

The lead mounted to as many as 17 points after a pair of Meeks free throws made it 66-49 with 3:48 to play before the Heels settled for the 11-point victory.

In addition to Jackson's 21 points, Berry added 15, Meeks contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds and Pinson chipped in 13.

The Tar Heels move to 24-5 and 12-3 in the ACC while Louisville falls to 22-6 and 10-5 in the conference.

Box Score

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