Throughout the season, UNC Head Coach Roy Williams has expressed the need for his team to defensively step up and keep their opponents off the line, and today despite their first conference win against Pitt, Williams is still pressing the issue.

We emphasized three or four things and one of them we didn’t do very well and that was keep them off the foul line. They shot 32 free throws. We tried talking about playing defense with our feet, so we wouldn’t reach in and foul them so much.

But despite their lack of defense, UNC showed flashes of the team Williams hopes to see in his lifetime – a competitive team that’s capable of making shots and defensively challenging. Cam Johnson, a Pittsburgh native, returned to his former school and offensively attacked them as the Heels third high scorer with 15pts. With boos reigning from the fans, Johnson handled his return like a pro. Coach Williams had a little advice for him, that apparently stuck and allowed Johnson to block out the outside noise.

I think Cam handled it really well, and, you know, I noticed that there was a few, little booing, but people like the young man. I just think he’s the kind of kid that people appreciate what he did here and the feelings they have for him and his family are all positive, but I didn’t worry about him. I think…I said one little sentence to him: ‘Just be Cam. Don’t worry about anything else going on. Just be Cam.

With an early sold out Peterson Events Center, the first in nearly two years, UNC walked into Pitt with a must-win mentality. Fans and Coaching staff have been waiting for this team to break out, and with conference play on the horizon, the time is now. UNC had major fast breaks such as a 16-0 run with the offensive help of Luke Maye (17 points).

The star of the show, is undoubtedly, Coby White. White has been quiet the last few weeks, with media and fans thinking that his transition to college has begun to rear its ugly head, but White shut down critics with a stellar performance with 22 points. White showed that he’s capable of being a star shooter and floor general but with 5 turnovers, Coach Williams still isn’t satisfied with his floor capabilities.

 With Coby, you’ve got a guy that can score, but he’s a better ball handler and a better floor general than he showed today, too.” 

It seemed as though Pitt didn’t do much to take UNC off their game. Pitt only shot 30% from the field while only making 2 three-pointers. This couldn’t have been the performance head coach, Jeff Capel, wanted his team to show in his first ACC appearance as head coach. Capel, former Duke Asst. Coach, has his hands full in turning around a program that suffered under former coach, Kevin Stallings. Capel has succeeded in reviving the team and giving them hope to become equally as competitive in the toughest College Basketball conference.

UNC heads back to Chapel Hill as they face hometown rival, NC State on Tuesday (Chapel Hill and Raleigh are only 30 miles apart). This will probably be a classic rival game with NC State sitting pretty at 13-1 and number one in the ACC (this makes you wonder why they aren’t ranked higher in the AP Poll but that’s another story for a different day.) Tune into ESPN at 7pm on Tuesday for and early ACC battle.

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