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.