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Off the cuff: Seems that a lot of "experts" are starting to come around on the Tar Heels. The Heels certainly earned it down the stretch with a big win at Duke, a clinic on Florida State and now a gritty win over Pitt.

With Tennessee losing in its league tournament, attention has turned to Carolina possibly being a No. 1 seed. Hopefully all these good things being said about Carolina won't change the players attitude that they are playing with a chip on their shoulder.

In several interviews lately, UNC's Harrison Ingram has mentioned how each player has some chip and that the team collectively has that chip.

And RJ Davis has been talking about not being satisfied. Some years in the past, it has seemed that Carolina hasn't put as much emphasis on the ACC Tournament and instead are looking forward to the NCAA Tournament.

This team reached its first goal with a regular season ACC title and now they want the ACC Tournament Title. Davis and Bacot both said the job isn't finished. This team wants it all - including the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. But they are very much a one game at a time team, Elliott Cadeau said.

I like this attitude. In the old days, the ACC Tournament was the ultimate goal - especially when UCLA was winning the NCAA title each year.

Winning the ACC regular season title is probably a bigger accomplishment than winning an ACC title. And some teams seem to want the extra rest before the NCAA Tourney. But, again, I like this attitude. First, the Heels wanted a regular season title. Now, they want the ACC Tournament title and then they can turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament. That's the way it should be.

As for the Pitt game itself, RJ Davis said he was proud of the way the team battled against a tough opponent fighting for its post-season life. "To get a win like that - that's Carolina basketball right there.

Ingram said that Pitt started out as the most physical team but then Carolina started putting more pressure on the Panthers and became the more physical team, especially in the second half.

He gave Davis his due but he seemed to point to Bacot being the difference. "He's a load inside," Ingram said. "It makes it easier for the rest of us with the big guy down there inside getting attention."

Carolina 72, Pittsburgh 65
Vets Bacot, Davis lead Heels to finals


(Photo by UNC Sports Information)

When it came down to getting into the ACC Tournament finals, it took two veteran North Carolina players - Armando Bacot handling the inside chores and RJ Davis the outside job - to push the Tar Heels to a tough 72-65 victory over Pittsburgh. (3/15) 

Bacot got yet another double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to tie Ralph Sampson for the second most in NCAA history. Meanwhile, RJ Davis scored 25 points to reach the 2,000-point mark for his career.

Davis scored nine of the the Tar Heels last 10 points as Carolina broke a 62-62 tie over the last four minutes to win going away.

"RJ has been our closer all year," Bacot said of Davis. But it also took Bacot's inside game down the stretch as Davis (11) and Bacot (7) combined for the Tar Heels' last 18 points of the game.

"It's just incredible to have two players like that on my team," said Harrison Ingram, who transferred in this season from Stanford.

Bacot and Davis praised Ingram for his defense on Pitt's Blake Hinson, who averaged 19 points a game but only got five points in this game.

It was Carlton Carrington who handled most of the scoring load for Pitt as he scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half when the Panthers held the lead. Pitt went on a 13-0 run early to control most of the first half, settling for a 35-33 lead at the break.

UNC's Seth Trimble clamped down on Carrington in the second half. After Elliott Cadeau placed a bounce pass in traffic to Davis for a layup and a foul, Carolina took the lead at 43-42 with 15 minutes to go and never trailed again.

The lead never got higher than seven points, however, and an 8-2 Pitt run tied it at 62 with just over four minutes to go. That's when Davis hit a three from the top of the key and followed that up, less than two minutes later, with a three from the right side.

Bacot rebounds and Davis free throws wrapped it up.

Pitt, playing for its NCAA Tournament bid life, was aggressive from the start and got into some foul trouble in the first half with the two big men - Guillermo Diaz-Graham and Frederiko Frederiko - trying to cover Bacot.

Pitt falls to 22-11 while the Tar Heels improve to 27-6 overall, and advance to tomorrow's 8:30 p.m. championship game against N.C. State or Virginia.

Box score



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