With Jim Boeheim back on the bench, the effort was great, but the end result was an all-too-familiar one for Syracuse, as they dropped an 84-73 decision to #6 North Carolina at the Carrier Dome. The Orange wilted in the final 8:15, getting outscored by a 17 points in that time as they fell to 0-4 in ACC play and 10-7 overall. The Tar Heels won their eighth straight game, pushing them to 15-2 overall and 4-0 in conference action.
SU was very competitive early, but their 2-3 zone got picked apart in the second half, as UNC shot 64.3 percent from the field in the second half, including making 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) of their two-point field goals in that time. Carolina also had 24 assists on 32 field goals in the game, including 16 helpers on 18 field goals after intermission.
Syracuse did acquit themselves nicely against one of the best rebounding teams in the country, winning the battle of the boards by a 35-33 mark, including corralling 14 offensive rebounds. That strong play inside was not evident on defense, though, as the Tar Heels piled up 46 points in the paint.
The two squads traded markers in the opening minutes, but the Orange used an early 8-0 run to turn a two-point deficit into a 13-7 lead. Tyler Roberson started the run with a pair of foul shots and DaJuan Coleman gave SU the lead with a three-point-play wrapped around the under-four media timeout. Malachi Richardson banged home a three to cap the run and give Syracuse a six-point cushion.
North Carolina struck back with an 8-1 run to eat up most of the Orange lead, then ran off ten straight points shortly after to grab a 27-20 lead with just over six minutes left in the half.
SU snapped a scoreless streak that lasted over six minutes in impressive fashion. Coleman fed Trevor Cooney for a three from the right corner to kickstart the Syracuse offense. Cooney added a floater on the next trip down the floor, then Richardson drained a three after Roberson snared an offensive rebound to but the Orange back in front, 28-27.
The two teams each scored twice, with SU getting a three-pointer, to give the hosts a two-point lead late in the half, but the Tar Heels got a steal and lay-up just before the horn to send the game to halftime at 33-33.
Carolina came out of the locker room hot and grabbed a 42-36 lead in the first 2:15 after the break. Shortly after, Syracuse would fight back, using a 9-2 run to grab the lead once more.
Richardson used a shot fake to get open and buried a triple to start the burst. Cooney backed that bomb by going coast-to-coast with a rebound for a lay-in. After a pair of UNC foul shots, Richardson dropped in a lay-up, then Michael Gbinije converted a steal into a pair of free throws for a 47-46 Orange lead less than seven minutes into the half.
That did not end the strong play for SU, who tacked on seven straight points a couple minutes later. Richardson zipped a pass to Tyler Lydon for a two-handed slam to start the run. Cooney splashed a step-back 18-footer, then added a deep three from the right wing to give Syracuse a 56-50 advantage with under 8:30 remaining.
And that’s when the Carrier Dome roof caved in on the Orange.
UNC responded with 12 of the next 14 points of the game for a four-point lead with just over six minutes left. SU traded scores with the Heels for the next three minutes, but Carolina ended that with six consecutive points to strengthen their grasp on the game at 75-66 with just over two minutes to play.
Syracuse failed to get within six points over the rest of the game.
Trevor Cooney had his best game of the year, ringing up a game-high 27 points, including hitting a season-best five three-pointers. Malachi Richardson kept up his hot perimeter shooting by making four threes en route to 16 points. Tyler Roberson had 13 points and Michael Gbinije overcame an off night to finish with ten points by rolling up eight in the game’s final 3:31.
Isaiah Hicks shot the lights out for UNC, scoring 21 points off the bench be shooting 5-of-5 from the field and 11-of-13 from the stripe. Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson each had 16 points for the Heels and combined to shoot 15-of-22 from the floor. Joel Berry II also cracked double digits, finishing the night with 14 points.
The Orange look to right the ship on Wednesday night when Boston College pays a visit to the Carrier Dome. The Eagles (7-8, 0-2) have been beaten by a combined 45 points in their two ACC games, including a 28-point blowout loss at home against Notre Dame on Saturday.
Eli Carter leads BC at 17.0 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.0 three-pointers per game. While the team has made only one-third of their treys this season, five different Eagles have made at least 14 three-pointers.
Tip-off is set for 7:00pm and the game will be televised regionally, so check your local listings. The telecast can also be seen online at espn3.com and through the WatchESPN app.