North Carolina guards Nate Britt, left, and Kenny Williams III (middle) try to block a shot by Pittsburgh forward Jamel Artis during the second half of Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

North Carolina freshman Kenny Williams III picked a good time to hit his first career 3-pointer.

The reserve had been 0 for 12 on 3s coming into Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal, but he hit one during a critical second-half sequence to push No. 7 UNC’s lead to 11 on the way to an 88-71 win against Pittsburgh. Williams’ 3 _ his only basket _ had teammates erupting on the bench along with UNC’s fans.

“They were just saying: 'There it goes! there it goes!” he said. “They were just happy for me, and that was a great feeling.”

Kenny Williams had originally committed to VCU before switching to UNC last spring, with coach Roy Williams liking his potential as a 3-point shooter and defender. Maybe ol’ Roy had a good feeling as he put the freshman in to defend Jamel Artis.

“I had a big enough premonition to put him in the game there,” the coach said. “Kenny defensively is really good, really slides his feet, so it was important. I wanted somebody in there, I wanted to get some guys some rest.”

Kenny Williams hadn’t attempted a shot since Valentine’s Day and hadn’t made one since Jan. 4, even as coaches and teammates kept telling him he’s a good shooter.

“He made it in a clutch moment,” senior Brice Johnson said, “and you can’t help but smile for him.”