A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 72-68 loss to North Carolina on Tuesday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 68-66 with 19 seconds to go, Jesse Edwards fouled out after stopping a potential game-tying layup from Pete Nance. Nance made the first free throw, but missed the second. Joe Girard saved the ball from going out of bounds, but right into the hands of Nance, who slammed home the go-ahead basket. On SU’s ensuing play, Judah Mintz drove to the hoop and elbowed RJ Davis in the head. Officials ruled it a flagrant foul, and UNC was able to hit free throws to close out the evening.
ANALYSIS: This one hurts. Syracuse had every opportunity to pick up what could wind up being a Quadrant 1 victory, and appeared on the verge of pulling off an upset by taking a late lead. But with a few unfortunate bounces, the Orange fell to 0-4 in Quadrant 1 matchups, and saw their margin for error to make the NCAA Tournament get even narrower. Syracuse can look to the stat sheet as to why it lost out on the opportunity. The Orange committed 17 fouls to UNC’s 11, and went to the line just 3 times compared with 23 for the Tar Heels. Syracuse also was sloppy with the ball, turning it over 16 times.
HERO: Armando Bacot and Nance combined for 39 points, while Girard (18) and Bell (15) led the Orange attack.
ZERO: Syracuse got few contributions from its bench, with just six combined points. Maliq Brown, the star of SU’s win over Georgia Tech had a relatively quiet night, with just 2 points and 7 rebounds.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse goes on the road to play Virginia Tech on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. TV: ACCN.