Pitt sweeps Tar Heels as Capel rips UNC’s treatment of former player

Perceived disrespect toward former Tar Heels player and Pitt assistant Jason Capel overshadowed the Panthers' win

Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel directs the team against North Carolina during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

CHAPEL HILL — Pitt got a season sweep of UNC, winning 65-64 in an emotional game at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

Nelly Cummings helped Pitt wipe out a UNC lead that reached seven points in the second half, hitting 3-pointers on three straight possessions to put the Panthers in front. Cummings finished with 21 points and hit 5 of 6 from 3.

The Panthers also harassed UNC big man Armando Bacot into an off night. Bacot shot 3 of 10 from the field and struggled at both ends of the floor.

“I think he got frustrated a little bit,” coach Hubert Davis said. “I think because of their physicality, he felt like he had gotten fouled and I thought that at times got him emotional. And at the end of the day, they just did a really good job.”

RJ Davis, returning from an eye and finger injury in his last game, also struggled to a 3-of-15 shooting night.

“We weren’t disciplined enough to win the game,” Hubert Davis said. “We weren’t tough enough to win the game. And we didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win the game. We didn’t play good enough defense to win again.”

The game featured a controversy as former UNC player Jason Capel, now a Pitt assistant coach under brother Jeff Capel, was very emotional on the court and in the tunnel outside the Pitt locker room. He was observed yelling at fans courtside about how he was being disrespected.

Jeff Capel addressed the situation after the game with some pointed words toward UNC fans and administration.

“You know … my brother loves this school,” he said. “He dreamt of coming here as a player when we were little, when he was little. And we grew up here. My family moved to Virginia. I think my brother was going to ninth grade. This is the place that he always dreamt of playing. And he wore that jersey with a lot of pride. And since he’s left here there’s been a lot of disrespect towards him.”

Capel said the two brothers were upset by a social media post made by UNC prior to the game.

“I don’t think it’s coming from within the basketball program,” Capel said. “And I don’t know who controls their social media but there was a tweet, and I hope I was hoping he didn’t see it. I’m not on social media. One of the guys on my staff showed it to me where you know again I get social media Twitter, he tried to be funny, he tried to do whatever, but I thought it was dumb trolling him. And, you know, it’s a complicated relationship with him in North Carolina. He loves it. But I think at times he doesn’t feel that back.”

Capel said the problems dated back to the 2009 season, when UNC beat Oklahoma, coached by Jeff Capel, to reach the Final Four.

“My brother was there with my whole family, supporting me,” he said. “He had an OU shirt on, and the Carolina fans were pretty sh—y towards him — excuse my language, but pretty, pretty nasty. And it took one of their former players to say something. And you know, for me, it’s just really interesting. Man, because again, I grew up in the state. And this is one of the most tradition-laden programs in the history of college athletics, not just college basketball, and you hear about the Carolina family. And it’s just amazing to me. That their social media people will do that. I don’t think it’s Hubert. Hubert is awesome. I mean, he really is I don’t think it’s the players on the team. They are incredibly respectful, and really good young guys. Obviously, the game was emotional. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, you should get, in February. But … it’s just it’s a complicated relationship, and I hate it. I hate it for him. I hate him for this program because I know that he loves this place.”

It was not clear what tweet the Capels took issue with and whether it remained on the site or had been removed.

Capel’s postgame comments on the situation can be heard here