CHAPEL HILL, NC – Armando Bacot scored a couple of crucial mail baskets in the final 1:22 to help North Carolina secure an 81-75 victory over Syracuse at the Smith Center Tuesday night.
In a race game, UNC (8-4, 3-2) struck last with a 10-2 sprint in the final three minutes to take the lead again. Tar Heels made 8-of-9 free throws to close out the game and win their third ACC competition in a row.
UNC opened the second half on a 9-0 run, only to be countered by Syracuse’s 13-0 response. Tar Heels matched Orange with a 13-0 sprint by themselves, and several minutes later the visiting team orchestrated an 8-0 run to take a 68-67 lead with 3:21 to play.
UNC shot 39.7 percent from the floor, marking the third time in a row that it has not reached the top of the 40 percent threshold. Orange shot 46.7 percent in 13 fewer attempts. UNC averaged 1.17 points per game. Possession of Syracuse 1.09.
The tar heels surpassed their opponent, 48-31. Their 18-10 assist revenue difference was the biggest of the season.
To own the paint
With starting center Bourama Sidibe still on the pitch after injuring his meniscus in November, Jim Boeheim relied on 6-foot-10, 201-pound Marek Dolezaj to man again in the middle of his zone. UNC’s emphasis on hitting the ball low gave Garrison Brooks’ best performance of the season as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year scored his first double-double with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds.
Bacot (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Day’Ron Sharpe (8 points, 4 rebounds) were also recipients. The Tar Heels came back with 53.3 percent of their misses, surpassing Orange, 24-4, in points for the second chance.
Leaking black locks down
Buddy Boeheim turned on UNC in the first half, scoring 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (4-of-7 3FG). Leaky Black (5 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists) increased his defensive efforts after the break and effectively shut Boeheim down, keeping Syracuse junior scoreless on three field goal attempts in 20 minutes.
Harris close to returning
The most exciting development on Tuesday concerned a player who did not actually play. Sophomore guard Anthony Harris dressed up for the first time this season, signaling a potential return in the coming days. Woodbridge, Va. The native has not played since tearing his ACL against Yale on December 30, 2019.
Tweet of note
UNC’s 24 offensive rebounds were the most against an ACC team as they pulled 24 down against Pittsburgh on February 25, 2017. https://t.co/PMXwBuRxFR
– Pat James (@ patjames24) January 13, 2021
Late half collapse
Tar Heels led 36-26 with 3:51 left in the first half as Williams implemented a 4-man replacement that replaced Black-Davis-Sharpe-Brooks with Love-Platek-Bacot-Kessler along with Kerwin Walton. Syracuse took advantage with a 10-2 run over the next 2:05 and scored on four of its next five possessions.
The Orange closed the half on 14-4 runs by making six of their last seven field goal attempts.
UNC travels to Tallahassee to play Florida State on Saturday, marking its fourth road game in six ACC games. The Seminoles (5-2, 1-1 ACC) have lost two of their last three after winning four straight to open the season.