Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tar Heels Hand Pitt Record Loss Eleventh Defeat in Row Sets Mark; Still Winless in Acc

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tar Heels Hand Pitt Record Loss Eleventh Defeat in Row Sets Mark; Still Winless in Acc

Article excerpt

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Cameron Johnson's contentious and well-publicized transfer last year from Pitt to North Carolina harmed the Panthers from an optics standpoint, as a promising and much-improved local product - the son of a former Pitt player, no less - left because of the growing uncertainty that surrounded the program and where it might be in the coming years.

Where it hurt the most, though, was the devastating impact it had on the team's on-court product, as it suddenly and unexpectedly lost its leading returning scorer, a player who would have been a prominent and needed stabilizing force on a team largely lacking in talent and experience.

They experienced close to the full brunt of that blow Saturday.

Without what would have likely been the team's centerpiece - and with that same centerpiece taking the court for the opposing team - Pitt faded after a hot start and saw Johnson spearhead a run in which the Panthers were outscored, 36-9, over a span of 10:29 between the first and second halves, leading to a 96-65 loss at Dean E. Smith Center.

The loss was the 11th in a row, making it the longest such skid in program history, and kept Pitt winless in ACC play.

Johnson, an Our Lady of Sacred Heart graduate, didn't have his best shooting game, finishing just five of 14 from 3-point range, but the bulk of his 14 points came at what stood as the game's most crucial juncture.

A layup from Shamiel Stevenson with 3:19 remaining in the half allowed Pitt to regain the lead, 32-31, but from there, that tenuous grasp began to relent - at the hands of a painfully familiar face.

Beginning with a 3 with 2:59 remaining, Johnson went on a personal 8-0 run over the next 48 seconds to give the Tar Heels a seven-point advantage. Following a 3 from Joel Berry, a first half with 11 lead changes saw the home team take a double-digit lead into the locker room.

That swift momentum shift continued into the second half. North Carolina scored 22 of the first 28 points of the half, capped off by an acrobatic layup from Luke Maye that put his team up, 67-41, turning what had been a tight, back-and-forth contest just 10 minutes earlier into a rout. …

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