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Off the cuff: With Pitt leading Carolina 17-11 nearly eight minutes into the Panthers' Senior Day game, it looked like it might be one of those tough ACC road games.

But after Joel Berry hit a three from the left wing nine minutes into the game to give Carolina the lead, the Tar Heels never trailed again.

Second-chance points, the ability to hit threes and Pitt's inability to hit threes was the difference in the game.

The Panthers scored 18 more points from three-point land the first time the two teams met, when UNC eeked out a two-point victory.

Pitt's Rozelle Nix seems to be popular with the student body because of his 300-pound body and his demonstrative behavior. But that staring and glaring and barking and invading one's space equals being a jerk to opposing teams' fans.

Carolina's Shea Rush, who seems popuilar with the UNC student body because of his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air haircut, got a strong block of a three-point attempt late in the game during mop-up duty.

One of the more obscure but amazing stats of the game was that Carolina took 25 more shots than Pittsburgh (73-48). When you get that many more chances, you are almost certainly going to win.

Tar Heels 85, Pittsburgh 67
UNC ensured of byes with win over Pitt

North Carolina opened up a tight game with a 10-0 run at the end of the first half and went on to roll past Pittsburgh 85-67 to ensure themselves of a double bye in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. (2/25)

The Tar Heels, 13-3 in the league, remain two games ahead of Duke, which is the only team that could dethrone Carolina from the ACC regular season title. If Carolina beats Virginia Monday, the Blue Devils would not be able to catch the Heels even with a win in the season finale in Chapel Hill on Senior Night.

Again it was Justin Jackson leading the way with 23 points on five three pointers. Joel Berry scored 19 points on four three pointers. Kennedy Meeks added 18 points and led the way on the boards with 10 rebounds. Tony Bradley came off the bench for 10 points to round out the double-figure scorers.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he wanted his team to score in the paint, control the boards and not give up as many open threes as the Heels did in the first matchup this season against the Panthers.

Carolina did well on all three points. The Tar Heels had 42 points in the paint including 28 second-chance points off 24 offensive rebounds. The Heels outrebounded the Panthers 48-28. Pitt, which hit 13 threes in an 80-78 loss in Chapel Hill, was only seven of 24 from beyond the three-point line this time.

"We're getting a little better," Coach Williams said. "But we need to make big-time strides defensively."

Pitt shot only 39.6 percent from the field while the Tar Heels shot 45 percent, including hitting 10 of 24 from beyond the arc.

A pair of threes by Jackson helped open up the game late in the first half. Ahead just 30-28, Jackson drained a three right at the end of the shot clock to begin a game-changing 10-0 run. After Luke Maye and Meeks scored inside, Jackson ripped another three in traffic with 10 seconds left in the half to give Carolina a 40-28 halftime lead.

But the Tar Heels, who turned the ball over only twice in the first half, turned it over three times in the first minute and a half of the second half. But Pitt could only cut the margin to eight.

The Heels then went on 12-2 run to boost the lead to a then game-high 18 points at 59-41. Jackson started the run with a swished three from the top of the key while Berry ended the run with a drive to the hoop from the top of the key.

It never got closer than 12 again while the Heels worked the margin up to 22 on a Theo Pinson pass to Isaiah Hicks for a dunk.

The Tar Heels, who move to 25-5 overall, plays at Virginia Monday while Pitt falls to 15-14 overall and 4-12 in the ACC.

Box Score

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