Syracuse lost, 72-68, to North Carolina on Tuesday evening at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Here are the key takeaways from the loss.
ACC’s top Centers on full display
It was a battle of two of the ACC’s top big men on Tuesday evening. Syracuse’s Jesse Edwards (13.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and UNC’s Armando Bacot (17.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg) were in a physical battle all evening.
Edwards was saddled with foul trouble most of the evening, and played 32 minutes, finishing with 8 points and 7 rebounds. Meanwhile, Bacot won the matchup, finishing with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
“I think Jesse played well,” Boeheim said. “He has trouble moving against a stronger guy offensively. We did a good job on the boards, which is unusual against one of the better rebounding teams in the country.”
Syracuse suffers a tough ending
It was a disastrous final 30 seconds for Syracuse.
Syracuse appeared in control, up 68-66 with 31 seconds left and Judah Mintz attacking the basket. His shot, which would’ve likely sealed an SU win, rimmed out, giving UNC a chance to tie or win the game in regulation.
North Carolina came down court and Pete Nance was fouled by Edwards on a potential game-tying layup and was awarded two free throws.
He made the first and missed the second, but in an attempt to save the ball from going out of bounds, Girard tipped the ball under the basket, and Nance corralled the loose ball and jammed home the go-ahead basket.
Mintz followed that play by getting whistled for a flagrant foul on a drive to the basket, effectively ending the game.
Syracuse falls short of another top win
The Orange at the end of January continue to search for their first Q1 win with March around the corner. At 7-4 in ACC play, Syracuse has yet to pick up a win in the most important quadrant of top teams.
Syracuse had the opportunity for two Q1 wins in the past week, but fell short against Miami and now UNC. Syracuse has not come up big in close games when they have needed to. When asked about the inability to close out key games at the end of his press conference, Boeheim dismissed the question, said “we’re done here,” and quickly exited the postgame.
The Orange now have back to back Q1 games at Virginia Tech and then home against Virginia. These next two become even more crutial as Syracuse tries to turn the narrative of their season.