UNC’s Pinson takes over to avenge Senior Night loss

The career of North Carolina’s Theo Pinson may be coming to an end but not before settling some scores and playing some of his best basketball. An intense, aggressive Pinson scored a career-high 25 points to defeat Miami in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals 82-65. “I remembered that they stole my Senior Night,” said Pinson, who also had 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Carolina, which didn’t score over the first seven minutes of the game, came from a 14-0 deficit to avenge the Tar Heels’ last-second loss on Senior Night nine days earlier. UNC coach Roy Williams substituted his […]

The career of North Carolina’s Theo Pinson may be coming to an end but not before settling some scores and playing some of his best basketball. An intense, aggressive Pinson scored a career-high 25 points to defeat Miami in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals 82-65.

“I remembered that they stole my Senior Night,” said Pinson, who also had 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Carolina, which didn’t score over the first seven minutes of the game, came from a 14-0 deficit to avenge the Tar Heels’ last-second loss on Senior Night nine days earlier.

UNC coach Roy Williams substituted his entire starting five and backup Seventh Woods promptly scored five straight points after the Heels had missed their first 13 shots including going zero for seven from beyond the arc.

Coach Williams said the subs calmed the game down a bit and turned out to be a huge point in the game.

Pinson agreed and even told the subs that he credited them for the win. “Those five settled us down,” Pinson said. “We were rushing, antsy that the ball didn’t fall for us… We’ve been there before so we knew we’d make a run.”

Amazingly the Tar Heels were able to erase the deficit and take their first lead on a Brandon Robinson three with just under six minutes left in the first half. Miami recaptured the lead but Carolina was able to take a halftime lead after Lonnie Walker fouled Cam Johnson as he was putting up a desperation heave at the buzzer. Johnson hit all three free throws to give UNC a 32-31 halftime lead.

The lead went back and forth, and the game was tied at 50-all midway through the second half. A 14-6 run gave Carolina an eight-point cushion at 64-56 with under seven minutes to play. A Pinson pass to Joel Berry, who hit a three from the left corner, and a Pinson three at the end of the shot clock highlighted the run.

Pinson, who failed to average double figures during the regular season, has been known more as a distributor than a scorer. But he’s been shooting more as of late. “I’ve been taking what the defense gives me,” Pinson said. “I have the ball in my hands a lot… If they’re not going to play me, I’m going to take it.”

After Miami had cut the lead to 69-65 with 3:50 left, Pinson did indeed take it. He went coast to coast, taking it to the hoop for a thunderous two-handed dunk down the lane. The Hurricanes never scored again as the Heels went on a 13-0 run to win going away.

Cam Johnson scored 11 of his 13 points over a five-minute period just before the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second half. Joining Johnson and Pinson in double figures were Berry and Kenny Williams, who each scored 11.

Ja’Quan Newton, who has hit half of his three point shots on the year against the Tar Heels including the dagger on Senior Night, led Miami with 17 points.

The Tar Heels, now 24-9 overall, play rival Duke in the ACC Tournament’s semi-finals Friday at 9:30 p.m.

For a box score and more on the game, please click here.