A quick take on Syracuse’s 83-66 loss against North Carolina in the 2016 Regional Semifinal:
WHAT HAPPENED: Trailing by double digits going into halftime, and for most of the second half, Syracuse cut the lead to 57-50 with 9:51 left. But Theo Pinson and Marcus Paige drained back-breaking 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, putting away any hope that the Orange could rally like it did against Virginia last week.
ANALYSIS: Nothing to be ashamed about in this loss. Syracuse wasn’t expected to make the Sweet 16, Elite 8 or Final Four. And two weeks ago, SU’s status for the NCAA Tournament was up in the air. In the long history of Syracuse basketball, there hasn’t been a run quite like this one, and no 10-seed has ever advanced this far in the tournament. Put simply: History will look well on this Syracuse team.
HERO: Trevor Cooney, perhaps rewriting his legacy with his second Final Four run, led the Orange with 22 points on 9-18 shooting. Malachi Richardson, perhaps also playing his final game for SU, chipped in 17. Balance was the name of the game for North Carolina, with four players (Johnson, Meeks, Jackson and Paige) with 13 or more points.
ZERO: Syracuse shot just 4-13 from the line, and 40.6 from the field. UNC was once again nonplussed with the 2-3 zone, as the Orange allowed the Tar Heels to shoot over 50 percent from the field.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse has two main questions heading into the offseason: 1. Will one or both of Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson jump to the NBA? 2. With an open scholarship, will the Orange add another big man such as Taurean Thompson? Retaining the two freshmen and adding another for the class of 2016 will go a long way in returning to the Final Four next season.