Instant Juice: Syracuse 73, North Carolina 84

For only the second time in his 40 year career, Jim Boeheim returned to the bench after a mid-season absence Sat. night as the Orange fell to No. 6 North Carolina 84-73.

A quick take on Syracuse’s gutsy effort in an 84-73 loss against No. 6 North Carolina on Saturday evening, in front of 26,811 the largest crowd of the season at the Carrier Dome:

WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse (10-7, 0-4) dropped its fourth straight ACC game out of the gate, the first time that’s happened since the 1996-97 Big East season (but that wasn’t four consecutive defeats), in falling short of knocking off the talented Tar Heels (15-2, 4-0).  SU has never lost five consecutive games during the Jim Boeheim era, even as three of these current four straight defeats came under Mike Hopkins.

» Related: There’s still plenty of time for Syracuse to form its NCAA resume

ANALYSIS: In a game that featured six ties and 16 leads changes, North Carolina finally pulled away from the SU upset bid over the final 5:00, getting the ball inside for easy baskets, or hitting free throws to ice the game away.  Despite out rebounding the bigger and bulkier Tar Heels by two, and tightening up the zone against the Carolina outside shooting throughout the first 30 minutes, the Orange could not get enough offense of its own late to complete the upset bid.  Spurred by Boeheim’s return from NCAA suspension, the ‘Cuse certainly played a better overall game against a more talented Top Ten team, but came up short of gaining its first conference victory.

HERO: Trevor Cooney was marvelous at both ends of the court in keeping SU in the game, highlighted by a game high 27 points, matching his career high, including five three point baskets, and he grabbed five boards.  UNC’s Joel Berry II, Brice Johnson, and Justin Jackson hurt the Orange throughout with a combined 46 points.

ZERO: Orange guard Michael Gbinije struggled most of the night, not hitting a field goal until just over 3:00 to play, finishing with 10 points, although most came late in the game with the Heels in control.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse concludes an eight day, three game home stand facing Boston College Wed., Jan. 13 at the Dome.  SU swept the two games with BC last season. The Eagles (7-8, 0-2) were blown out by Notre Dame 82-54 this past Thursday night, the 28 point margin representing the third-most lopsided home defeat BC’s been dealt since joining the ACC 11 years ago. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ACCRSNs-ESPN3.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.