Syracuse is dealt a rout by North Carolina and a blow to its NCAA hopes

Dolezaj UNC
Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) goes up for a shot against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Pierce (32). Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

North Carolina is going to be sad to see the current version of the Carrier Dome go. The Tar Heels (12-17, 5-13 ACC) came into Syracuse ranked 340th in Division One shooting from long range, making just 28.8 percent of their three-pointers on the season. They burned the nets in the last men’s basketball game before the Dome’s remodeling project truly kicks in, hitting a season-high 11 triples, including nine after halftime, to run away with a 92-79 win.

The Orange (16-13, 9-9), who have been leaky on defense almost all season, got blistered for at least 90 points for the third time in February, giving up 52 points in the second half. UNC made 51.6 percent of their field goal attempts overall, including 56.7 percent from the floor and 9-of-14 triples (64.3 percent) on Saturday. Six of those treys came in the first six minutes of the second half as Carolina inflated a five-point halftime lead to 16 and never looked back.

The two teams played evenly over the first nine minutes as neither side led by more than three points. North Carolina, however, blew things open in less than six minutes, as they ripped off 16 straight points. SU was simply inept on offense during that time, missing all seven of their shot attempts and turning the ball over five times.

The Syracuse offense shook off their slumber, though, replying with their own 11-0 run to climb back into the game. Buddy Boeheim swished a pull-up jumper to get the Orange on the board, then spun and hung in the air to get a fast break lay-up to fall.

» Related: Would an extra season at Syracuse help Elijah Hughes?

Bourama Sidibe added a pair of foul shots after the under-four media time out, then Boeheim added a transition three from the right wing and Elijah Hughes dropped in two more free throws to pull SU within 33-28 with 2:37 left in the first half.

The two teams played evenly the rest of the session and the Tar Heels held a 40-35 halftime lead.

UNC got a pair of three pointers early in the second half to push their lead to 11, but Hughes responded with a three-point-play to get within eight. Carolina kept hitting threes, though, nudging their lead out and eventually hitting a trio of treys in under 90 seconds for a 9-2 run that stretched the margin to 64-48 just under six minutes into the second half.

Syracuse simply could not get stops for the remainder of the game. While their offense continued to score, their defense gave points up at virtually the same pace. The Orange never got the margin under a dozen until the final minute of the game.

A game time decision coming off a sprained ankle, Buddy Boeheim topped Syracuse with 22 points. Elijah Hughes scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half. Bourama Sidibe was a monster inside against UNC’s talented front line, finishing with 17 points, 15 rebounds, and six blocked shots. The junior center had ten points and ten rebounds in the first half alone. Joe Girard III struggled with his stroke again, shooting just 3-of-12 for nine points.

Garrison Brooks paced North Carolina with a game-high 26 points and snared 14 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the year. Cole Anthony connected on 7-of-11 threes in the game as he poured in 25 points, 17 after halftime. The freshman point guard also handed out seven assists. Christian Keeling added 18 points, for the Heels making 7-of-11 shots.

The Orange will close their schedule with a pair of road games, the first coming Tuesday at Boston College. The Eagles (13-16, 7-11) have lost their last three games and were routed at Syracuse on January 15, 76-50. Buddy Boeheim had 22 points and Elijah Hughes 17 in the game for SU while C.J. Felder and Jairus Hamilton paced a banged-up BC squad with nine apiece.

Jay Heath and Derryck Thornton are tied as team leaders in points for Boston College, averaging 12.9 points apiece. Heath leads the team with 55 threes on 37.4 percent shooting from long range on the campaign.

Tuesday’s tip is set for 7:00pm Eastern with ESPN2 handling television duties.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 618 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.