A quick take on Syracuse’s gut wrenching 78-74 loss to North Carolina at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Theo Pinson’s 3-pointer with 4:53 left made it 74-66, Syracuse mounted a furious rally, and Tyus Battle’s jumper with 3:09 to go tied the game at 74. Syracuse had a go-ahead opportunity with 1:49 to go, but Battle’s 3-pointer missed, and Paschal Chukwu’s rebound was stolen by Joel Berry II. His transition layup gave UNC a 76-74 lead, and Frank Howard’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds missed, allowing UNC to escape with a win.
ANALYSIS: It was the most alive the Carrier Dome has been all season, with the largest on campus crowd this season of 27,165 making its presence felt down the stretch. Syracuse nearly sent the fans home happy, but fell short, squandering a perfect opportunity for a resume win. Instead, with three games to go, most prognosticators feel that the Orange will need to win two of three, which will not be easy with Duke, Boston College and Clemson still left on the docket.
HERO: Syracuse got good performances from its ‘Big 3’ with Howard (23 points, 5-10 from downtown), Battle (26) and Oshae Brissett (17) providing the offense. Pinson scored a career-high 23 to lead UNC, while Berry II chipped in 18.
ZERO:The play that will haunt the Orange came with 24 seconds left, with SU down 2 and possession of the ball. The original play was for Battle to come off a screen to have the option of a 3-point shot or attacking the basket (which he did to outstanding effect down the stretch). But Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game that Chukwu set the wrong screen, which forced Howard to take a contested 3-pointer.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse gets another shot at a top 10 team, as it travels to No. 5 Duke on Saturday at 6 p.m.