North Carolina continued its recent strong play in the ACC on Saturday as the Tar Heels picked up a 75-71 win over No. 25 Pitt at the Dean Dome.
Despite a second-half surge from Pitt that got the Panthers (20-6, 8-5) within a possession with under 25 seconds remaining, North Carolina (17-7, 7-4) made free throws and got a tremendous performance from junior forward James Michael McAdoo.
McAdoo had 24 points and 12 rebounds and when he plays as the main alpha dog for the Tar Heels, they’re a better team. Sophomore guard Marcus Paige also contributed 18 points and when he’s a second option scoring from the perimeter, North Carolina’s offense can be dangerous.
Brice Johnson also added 13 points off the bench, and although he’s a subpar on-the-ball defender, he’s bouncy enough to be a factor as a weakside shot blocker. Johnson had five blocks and if he can be a weakside shot blocker, maybe North Carolina uses some zone to utilize that strength of his sometimes.
This is a big win for the Tar Heels as they continue to shake off the slow start in league play. If J.P. Tokoto or Johnson is a third scoring option and McAdoo stays aggressive, this is a really good North Carolina offense that can beat some elite teams on a good night.
Meanwhile, Pitt will drop out of the top 25 this week and they still have yet to beat an NCAA Tournament-caliber team this season. Lamar Patterson’s great season has slowed down a bit and the Panthers need some wins going into the ACC Tournament.
New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.
The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.
UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.
In a report from Tampabay.com’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.
If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.