A quick take on Syracuse’s 88-79 overtime loss against North Carolina:
WHAT HAPPENED: North Carolina scored the first eight points of overtime, taking an 81-73 lead with 2:46 to go in the extra frame. Syracuse could never recover from there, as the Orange dropped its third straight game. Reminiscent of Syracuse’s loss against Wake Forest on Jan. 8, the Orange couldn’t inbound the ball at a critical moment. Syracuse was up 71-70 with 16 seconds left with Joe Girard inexplicably passed the ball toward Buddy Boeheim’s feet, and it skipped out of bounds. That allowed Caleb Love to hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds left before Girard responded with a baseline jumper with 2 seconds left to force overtime.
ANALYSIS: For the second straight game, Syracuse played a team that featured an elite big man. Armando Bacot was as good as advertised, as he punished SU inside with 17 points and 18 rebounds. Brady Manek also chipped in 22 points and five rebounds, as North Carolina was +3 on the glass, and also had 16 offensive rebounds. The Orange wasted a brilliant performance from Cole Swider, who scored a career-high 36 points, including hitting seven 3-pointers. But he was SU’s only real source of consistent offense. Syracuse’s other shooters struggled from downtown, as Buddy Boeheim (2-5), Girard (1-5) and Jimmy Boeheim (0-4) couldn’t find the range.
HERO: Bourama Sidibe played double digit minutes for the fifth straight game, and contributed 8 points and 3 rebounds. Love (21 points) and RJ Davis (17) also finished in double figures for UNC.
» Related: Timing running out for Syracuse to avoid losing record
ZERO: The foul discrepancy was notable. Though Syracuse took 38 shots inside the arc compared to 35 for the Tar Heels. But UNC took 20 shots from the free throw line compared to 8 for the Orange. No player for SU took more than 2 free throws.
WHAT’S NEXT: It all comes down to Syracuse’s regular season finale against Miami to determine whether Jim Boeheim will finish with a losing record in the regular season for the first time in his coaching career. We’ll find out on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ESPNU.
For more Syracuse coverage, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to our podcast.