Rested North Carolina seeks season split with Pitt

Pitt and North Carolina have been on solid rolls, and they’ll be trying to bolster their stocks when they meet Wednesday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

It’s a matchup between the third- and fourth-place teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 ACC), which has won four games in a row, is 10-0 in home games. The Tar Heels will be playing for the first time since Jan. 24, giving them a much-needed layoff.

“This stretch has been a lot,” coach Hubert Davis said. “This time off is good for two things — to be able to catch our breath and be able to rest. But No. 2, to have an opportunity to work on us. I feel like the last month and a half, every one of our practices has been in preparation for an opponent.”

Pitts (15-7, 8-3) is 5-2 in road games, with four of those victories coming in ACC play. On Saturday at home, the Panthers knocked off No. 20 Miami 71-68.

“These guys stepped up and make big time plays on both ends,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “So that’s what we’ve been all year. My hope is that’s who we continue to be.”

The Panthers have won four of their past five games. They’re coming off a three-game homestand.

“They just want to win,” Capel said of his players. “They don’t care who gets the glory.”

The time off probably worked well for North Carolina guard RJ Davis, who was ailing with a dislocated finger, cut above the eye and smashed nose by late in the Syracuse game.

“He was hurt pretty bad,” Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said. “He is tough. He’s a difference maker for us.”

North Carolina has won 10 of its past 12 games, with the setbacks at Pittsburgh and at then-No. 13 Virginia.

Much of North Carolina’s success has come with good finishing stretches.

“The experience of having been in those situations allow you to focus, allow you to be calm, being able to execute,” Davis said.

The Panthers nipped then-No. 25 North Carolina 76-74 on Dec. 30. Jamarius Burton racked up 31 points on 14-for-17 shooting in that game, countering Armando Bacot’s 22-point, 13-rebound effort for the Tar Heels.

A North Carolina opponent hasn’t reached the 70-point mark in the past six games.

“We have to get back in transition and not allow teams to score,” Davis said.

Last Feb. 16, Pitt pulled off an 76-67 upset of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels then won 11 of 12 games to reach the national championship game.

–Field Level Media

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Field Level Media was founded by sports media executives with more than 40 years of combined experience working with the most influential media companies in the industry.

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