Cole Swider went off for 36 points, but it was not enough, as North Carolina got off to a hot start in overtime to pull out an 88-79 home win over Syracuse. The Orange (15-15, 9-10 ACC) missed their first three shots in the extra session, helping the Tar Heels (22-8, 14-5) rip off a 10-1 run and grab a stranglehold on the game.
UNC was not particularly stellar on offense, save for chasing down their own misses. The Heels converted 16 offensive rebounds into 18 second chance points, a dozen more than SU had in the game.
Swider, however, was brilliant on offense throughout the game, only missing consecutive field goal attempts once while taking 21 shots. The forward made 14 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from three-point range.
But, it was not enough.
Syracuse scored the night’s first nine points, but North Carolina scored eight of ten points a few minutes later to draw within 17-14 with less than six minutes off the clock. The Heels kept after it, eventually getting a 9-2 run to take a 35-28 lead with just over three minutes left in the first half.
A pair of triples from Swider brought the Orange back within one, but UNC stretched their lead out to 41-36 at halftime. Just as in the opening session, the Orange started the second half hot, dropping a 10-1 run on the hosts, then stretched their lead out to five on back-to-back scores by Jimmy Boeheim.
Carolina fought back to tie the game immediately and neither team led by three through the rest of regulation. The Tar Heels seemed to catch SU off guard during what could have been their final possession by getting a quick three for a 73-71 lead, but Joe Girard III went the distance for a right baseline pull-up jumper with 1.4 seconds left to force overtime.
North Carolina scored the first eight points of overtime and never led by fewer than a half dozen after that. Cole Swider fouled out with Syracuse trailing by six points with 1:33 left in overtime, hurting their comeback efforts.
Cole Swider hit 14-of-21 shots from the floor en route to his career-high 36 points. Buddy Boeheim added 14 points and Jimmy Boeheim ten.
The Tar Heels had a balanced attack with four players scoring at least 17 points. Brady Manek led the way with 22 points while Caleb Love added 21. Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis each added 17 points with Bacot also pulling down 18 rebounds, nine on the offensive end. Bacot had 14 rebounds after halftime.