Xavier Johnson poured in 20 points as Pittsburgh defeated visiting North Carolina 66-52, adding to the Tar Heels' misery Saturday afternoon at Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.
It was the Panthers' second victory against North Carolina in an 11-day period, though this time Pittsburgh (12-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) didn't need to come back from a double-digit deficit.
North Carolina (8-9, 1-5) lost its fourth game in a row and has dipped below .500 for the first time in 16 years. The other three setbacks in the streak came at home, but this outing began a stretch of four road games across six games for the Tar Heels.
Johnson was 10 of 12 on free throws. Ryan Murphy added 13 points off the bench for the Panthers, who withstood some second-half offensive doldrums. Pittsburgh didn't have a field goal in the last 6 1/2 minutes.
Still, it was a strong bounce-back performance for Pittsburgh, which had lost its previous two games, including an overtime decision earlier in the week to No. 11 Louisville.
Garrison Brooks' 16 points and 13 rebounds and Armando Bacot's 12 points and 11 rebounds led the Tar Heels, while Brandon Robinson added 12 points. Other than that trio, the rest of the Tar Heels shot 4-for-23 from the field.
North Carolina shot 31.7 percent from the field, including 4-for-18 on 3-pointers.
North Carolina was within 56-42 with more than eight minutes remaining. The Tar Heels then went almost three minutes without scoring, stalling the comeback bid.
Pittsburgh led 43-23 at halftime, at times feasting on some of North Carolina's 11 turnovers before the break. North Carolina was 4-for-10 on first-half foul shots (and 10-for-21 for the game).
The margin reached 40-17 late in the first half.
North Carolina had freshman guard Jeremiah Francis back after he missed the previous game because of a sore knee. However, freshman sensation Cole Anthony, also dealing with a knee injury, remained out of the lineup and the Tar Heels fell to 2-6 in his absence.
--Field Level Media