CHAPEL HILL, NC – Armando Bacot scored a pair of major baskets in the 1:22 final to help North Carolina secure a 81-75 victory over Syracuse at the Smith Center on Tuesday night.
In a running game, UNC (8-4, 3-2) struck a final shot with a 10-2 shot in the last three minutes to regain the lead. Tar Heels made 8 of 9 free throws to close the game and win their third consecutive ACC race.
UNC opened the second half 9-0, only to face Syracuse’s 13-0 response. Tar Heels met Orange with 13: 0 and a few minutes later the visiting team organized 8-0 to lead 68-67 with 3:21.
UNC fired 39.7 percent of the floor, marking the third time in a row that it failed to reach the 40 percent threshold. The Oranges fired 46.7% with 13 fewer attempts. UNC averaged 1.17 points of possession compared to Syracuse’s 1.09.
Tar Heels beat their opponent, 48-31. Their difference between 18-10 assists and turnover was the biggest during the season.
Possession of paint
With Burama Sidibe’s starting center still removed after injuring his meniscus in November, Jim Boyheim relied on Marek Dolezay, who was again in the middle of his zone. UNC’s focus on hitting the ball low gave Garrison Brooks the best performance of the season, as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year scored its first double-double with 16 points in 5-of-12 shots and 10 rebounds.
Bakot (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Day’Ron Sharpe (8 points, 4 rebounds) were also beneficiaries. Tar Heels bounced 53.3% of their misses and overtook Orange 24-4 with points for a second chance.
Leaking black locks down
Buddy Boeheim ignited the UNC in the first half, scoring 18 points in a 7 out of 12 (4 out of 7 3FG) shot. Leaky Black (5 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists) increased his defense efforts after half time and effectively closed Boeheim, keeping the young Syracuse without a result in three attempts to score on the field in 20 minutes.
Harris near the return
Tuesday’s most intriguing development concerns a player who hasn’t actually played. Second-year guard Anthony Harris dressed for the first time this season, signaling a potential return in the coming days. The Woodbridge-born Virginia has not played since tearing up the ACL against Yale on December 30, 2019.
Tweet on note
24 offensive rebounds by UNC were the most against an ACC team since they drew 24 against Pittsburgh on February 25, 2017. https://t.co/PMXwBuRxFR
– Pat James (@ patjames24) January 13, 2021
Tar Heels led 36-26 with 3:51 left in the first half when Williams made a four-pointer, replacing Black-Davis-Sharpe-Brooks with Love-Platek-Bacot-Kessler along with Kerwin Walton. Syracuse took advantage of a 10-2 run over the next 2:05, scoring in four of its next five possessions.
The Oranges closed the half with a 14-4 series, making six of their last seven attempts to score on the field.
UNC is heading to Tallahassee to play in Florida on Saturday, marking its fourth game in six ACC games. The Seminoles (5-2, 1-1 ACC) have lost two of their last three after winning four times in a row to open the season.