SU vs. North Carolina

No. 6 North Carolina spoils Boeheim’s return, 84-73

Syracuse keeps it close but can’t stop the Tar Heels down the stretch to pull off the upset

It was a back and forth game that included 16 lead changes before North Carolina pulled away in the final minutes. The Orange stayed in the game due to improved rebounding compared to its recent games. SU came into the game ranked one of the worst rebounding teams in the ACC, but it outrebounded UNC 35-33.

However Syracuse missed plenty of solid shot opportunities and turned the ball over too much against a good transition team like the Tar Heels. The Orange finished the game with 13 turnovers and UNC gained 18 points off of Syracuse’s turnovers. Despite poor shooting and costly giveaways, the Orange entered the locker room at halftime tied with No. 6 North Carolina.

Trevor Cooney did all he could to keep ‘Cuse in the game. He finished with a season-high 27 points to go with 5 rebounds. SU needed Cooney on offense, because Michael Gbinije was having an off night. The starting point guard struggled with his shot, missing all six of his 3-point attempts. Cooney hit some big shots for Syracuse, including a mid-range jumper followed by a three pointer on the next possession to make it 56-50 in favor of the Orange with 8:28 left to play.

Though SU quickly let that lead get away as it has done in other recent losses. The Orange just couldn't get that one big stop that it needed. The Carrier Dome crowd wanted to get into the game and be a bigger factor, but the Tar Heels took the crowd out of it by finishing possessions in the last 8 minutes of the game.

North Carolina consistently found a way to get into the paint and Syracuse didn’t have an answer. SU forwards Tyler Lydon, Malachi Richardson and Tyler Roberson had way too many defensive breakdowns and the Tar Heels frontcourt took advantage. UNC continually got the ball into the high post and then fed the man running the baseline toward the hoop. Over and over again this play led to easy layups or dunks for North Carolina, with Isaiah Hicks and Justin Jackson being the beneficiaries multiple times.

The UNC big men did a good job of passing the ball, and passing it quickly. There were a bunch of touch passes down low that led to easy buckets for the Tar Heels. North Carolina constantly used the same type of play to penetrate the zone and ‘Cuse couldn't make the necessary adjustments down the stretch, falling to UNC by a final score of 84-73.

SU was in a position to win this game but let it slip away in the closing minutes. Syracuse has now lost four straight ACC games to start the season. After the game Jim Boeheim said, “Long way to go. We’ll be fine.” The Orange continues conference play this week with a home game against Boston College on Wednesday.

“We know that we have a tough road ahead of us, but we kind of look at it as great opportunities. We just have to hang tough. We know we have some good teams coming up and those are just chances for us to win games,” Trevor Cooney said.


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