Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online will be counting down the top 10 moments in the 2013-14 basketball season. We continue our countdown with No. 7, Syracuse’s 57-45 win over North Carolina at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 11.
WHAT HAPPENED: When North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo dominated inside early on, it appeared the Tar Heels were on their way toward their first ACC win.
But that’s when Syracuse’s defense took over.
Center Rakeem Christmas blocked four shots and SU’s 2-3 zone forced 14 turnovers as Syracuse cruised past the Tar Heels, 57-45. The loss dropped the once ranked Tar Heels to 0-3 in conference play, and 10-6 overall.
The Orange had to overcome an early six point deficit after McAdoo scored eight of his team’s first 10 points.
“We started pretty slow defensively,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Our centers made a nice adjustment, and our defense pretty much took over at that point.”
That adjustment helped hold UNC without a field goal for more than six minutes in the second half. Nate Britt’s layup with 7:54 left was followed by Leslie McDonald with just over a minute before intermission.
By then, North Carolina was down 12 points. The Tar Heels would shoot just 39 percent from the field.
The Orange wasn’t much better on offense, shooting 35 percent from the field and 4 of 19 from downtown. But SU got enough offense from their two star forwards, Jerami Grant and CJ Fair. The duo combined for 32 points and 20 rebounds, while Tyler Ennis chipped in 10 points and seven assists.
Syracuse put the game out of reach early in the second half, when Trevor Cooney hit one of his two 3-pointers in the game (he would shoot 2 for 12 from distance) to give SU a 47-31 lead midway with 11:47 left.
It was North Carolina’s worst offensive output since the Tar Heels lost to eventual NCAA Champion Villanova in the 1985 NCAA tournament.
WHY IT’S NO. 7: Syracuse may have played two league games before this, but this felt like the Orange’s first true ACC game. SU started conference play with wins over Miami and Virginia Tech, two teams SU had become familiar with in the old Big East. But North Carolina was a different kind of ACC team, a program that had become synonymous with ACC royalty. Plus, the two teams much for just the eighth time in school history, and first since 2009. And if that wasn’t enough, 32,121 fans were on hand at the Carrier Dome to see a satisfying win.
Check in next week as we reveal No. 6 on our countdown.