Instant Juice: Syracuse 81, North Carolina 53

Guerrier UNC
Syracuse forward Quincy Guerrier (1) goes up for a rebound against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks (15). Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online

A quick take on Syracuse’s 81-53 win over North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Tournament:

WHAT HAPPENED: After a Garrison Brooks jumper pulled North Carolina to within 28-22 with 5:24 left in the first half, the Orange took over. Quincy Guerrier’s free throw on the next possession started a 15-0 run for the Orange, culminating with an Elijah Huhges jumper with three seconds left to end the half. That was his 18th point of the opening period, and SU went into halftime up 43-22. The Tar Heels would get no closer than 16 in the second half, as the Orange ended a nine-game losing streak against North Carolina. It was a shocking result given that UNC entered as one of the ACC’s hottest teams, having won four of its last five games.

» Related: Syracuse likely needs to win ACC Tournament to make NCAAs

ANALYSIS: Not many would’ve predicted this outcome after UNC had throttled the Orange at home, 92-79, just three games ago. But the North Carolina team that had lost seven straight ACC games at one point resurfaced on Wednesday evening. The Tar Heels shot just 2-16 from downtown and 33.3 percent from the field, as the Orange sought to limit UNC star freshman Cole Anthony’s attempts. He finished with just five points and six turnovers on 2-10 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Orange put together one of its most complete games of the season, shooting 46.7 percent from the field, and only being -4 on the boards. Compare that with the Feb. 29 game when Syracuse was -10 on the glass. “We were terrible earlier in the year,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’ve gotten better.”

HERO: Hughes, fresh off being named a First-Team All-ACC selection, led the Orange with 27 points, one of four Orange in double figures. Bourama Sidibe notched another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. That’s now his sixth straight game in double figure rebounds, dating back to Feb. 22 against Georgia Tech.

ZERO: The loss capped an embarrassing season for Tar Heels Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, with the first losing season (14-19) of his 32-year career. It was a drastic fall for a team that was once No. 5 in the AP Top 25 poll in November. It also marked the most lopsided loss in the ACC Tournament ever for the Tar Heels.

WHAT’S NEXT: Under normal circumstances, Syracuse would meet the third-seeded and 15th-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Thursday in front of a large crowd. But the developments over the past 12 hours have called all of that into question. Earlier in the day, the NCAA announced only “essential-person” attendance for the NCAA Tournament. Shortly after, the ACC announced it wouldn’t allow fans to the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday. Later in the night, the NBA announced it was suspending its season following an announcement that Utah center Rudy Golbert had tested positive for the coronavirus. There is a potential that Syracuse’s win over North Carolina may have been the last game of its season.

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Wes Cheng
About Wes Cheng 2552 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.