CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina began a brutal part of the schedule the best way possible.
The Tar Heels came away with a riveting home victory over another nationally ranked team.
"We're here to play games and win games," forward J.P. Tokoto said after the Tar Heels started a stretch of four games in eight days by holding off No. 25 Pittsburgh, 75-71, on Saturday at the Smith Center.
Forward James Michael McAdoo scored 24 points, including a late-game scoring burst, as North Carolina stretched its winning streak to six games.
Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson missed a potential tying 3-pointer with eight seconds left.
Guard Marcus Paige added 18 points and forward Brice Johnson provided 13 points and several momentum-turning blocked shots off the bench for North Carolina (17-7, 7-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference).
Johnson made the clinching free throw after Patterson's misfire.
"We got back in the game," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "I thought we executed better down the stretch than (earlier). ... We got the shot we wanted at the end."
The Tar Heels had no shortage of energy, perhaps built up from a postponement against rival Duke a few nights earlier. That has caused a beefed-up schedule in the coming week.
"They're 18, 19, 20 years old," coach Roy Williams said. "I'd love it if I could go play games instead of going through (my) practices."
North Carolina has a day off before playing at Florida State on Monday night, followed later in the week with the make-up game against Duke and a visit from Wake Forest.
Tokoto said it's a good to be playing plenty of games.
"Where we're at right now, we've got a six-game winning streak going," Tokoto said. "That pretty much says it all."
Patterson, who was strapped with first-half foul trouble, scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half for Pittsburgh.
Forward James Artis scored 13 points and guard James Robinson added 10 points for the Panthers (20-6, 8-5), who were coming off a heartbreaking 58-56 loss to top-ranked Syracuse three nights earlier.
Pittsburgh cut into a 61-49 deficit with five straight points before McAdoo's dunk at the 6:34 mark. Those were the Tar Heels' only points during a four-minute span, as Pittsburgh closed to within 63-61.
"We've got to get some other guys to step up and make shots," Williams said, looking for offense aside from McAdoo and Paige.
Down, 68-65, twice the Panthers failed to convert on the offensive end.
McAdoo had eight of North Carolina's nine points down the stretch before he fouled out with 25.6 seconds remaining. He also had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Artis made three free throws in a four-second span to pull the Panthers to within 74-71. Pittsburgh regained possession when North Carolina knocked a rebound out of bounds, setting up the final chance for Patterson.
Pittsburgh has lost four of its last six games, with the only victories during that stretch requiring overtime.
This time, Dixon pointed to North Carolina's 42-40 rebounding edge and the Panthers' 14 turnovers as major detriments for his team.
"We came in (thinking we had) to outrebound them, and we had more turnovers than they did," Dixon said. "Again, we've lost to a good team and we had opportunities. We simply didn't get it done."
Part of the reason for that was Johnson, who had five of the Tar Heels' nine blocked shots.
"Those blocked shots were huge," Williams said. "He's doing some good things for us. ... We are getting better defensively."