Pitt fought back to within three with the ball in the final 10 seconds. But Lamar Patterson missed a 3-pointer for the tie, and then Talib Zanna missed a putback attempt before Patterson fouled on the rebound with 2.8 seconds left. UNC's Brice Johnson hit his second free throw to make it a two-possession game and clinch the win.
McAdoo finished 11 for 18 from the field, while Paige went 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Johnson added 13 points off the bench with seven rebounds and five blocked shots, including one on a driving layup by James Robinson with the Tar Heels up 74-68 in the final minute.
Patterson scored 16 points to lead the Panthers, who were even with the Tar Heels in several statistical categories - from rebounds to second-chance points and points off turnovers - but trailed throughout the second half and never could quite level the game.
The Tar Heels dug their way out of an 0-3 ACC start with their five-game winning streak that restored some optimism in Chapel Hill. But the five wins had come against teams that were a combined 26-32 in the league entering Saturday's games, and none had come against a team better than sixth in the league.
They're starting a four-games-in-eight days stretch, with the next stop coming Monday at Florida State followed by Thursday's rescheduled game against the Blue Devils.
For the Panthers, it was the latest frustrating moment in a stretch of gut-wrenching games.
It started with a home loss on a last-second 3-pointer to Virginia, followed by an overtime win at Miami and a double-overtime home win against Virginia Tech. Then came Wednesday's loss to top-ranked and unbeaten Syracuse at home on Tyler Ennis' desperation 3-pointer at the horn.
Now, along with the UNC loss, all five of those games have been decided by five or fewer points.