Instant Juice: Syracuse 72, UNC 70

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Mar 1, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange center Jesse Edwards (14) shoots against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Walker Kessler (13) and guard Caleb Love (bottom) in the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-70 win over North Carolina on Monday evening:

WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse appeared to be in control, up 68-58 with 2:39 to go, but an ill-advised inbounds pass from Marek Dolezaj sparked a furious rally for North Carolina, who pulled to within 70-68 with 19 seconds left after Caleb Love made a runner in the land after a Robert Braswell turnover. But Joe Girard III made three free throws in the final 13 seconds, and Love missed a pair, as the Orange ended a two-game losing streak to guarantee at least a .500 regular season finish in the ACC. Syracuse led for most of the second half after going into intermission up 34-28.

ANALYSIS: Too little, too late for the Orange’s post-season chances. While a win over North Carolina, a team that has typically dominated Syracuse in the past, is certainly a nice win, it is still a Q2 win since UNC is 41st in the NET rankings (a Q1 win is only awarded for a home win against a top 30 NET team). A performance like this would’ve had more of an impact against Duke or Georgia Tech on the road, two Q1 games. But as the Orange’s resume currently stands, they have zero Q1 wins, and head into the ACC Tournament in desperate need of a deep run in order to even be considered for an at-large bid.

HERO: Buddy Boeheim’s 26 points led Syracuse while Quincy Guerrier shook off recent poor performances to chip in 18 points and six rebounds. Perhaps the biggest storyline was the play of Jesse Edwards, who provided quality minutes off the bench against North Carolina’s big men, collecting six points and eight rebounds to go with four steals before fouling out.

» Related: Jim Boeheim change his rotation? Don’t count on it.

ZERO: Despite Edwards’ solid play, the Orange was once again dominated on the boards, surrendering a -19 margin. Armando Bacot feasted on the boards, collecting a game-high 15, including eight on the offensive end. Alan Griffin suffered through a 1-10 shooting performance, while Girard (4 points) continues to yield time to Kadary Richmond, who has emerged as a clearly superior choice at point guard. Still, Richmond appeared to get hurt late in the second half with a leg injury, paving the way for Girard to play in the game’s waning moments.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange finish off the regular season against Clemson on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ACCN.

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About Wes Cheng 2673 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.