Syracuse Boots UNC, Continues Strong ACC Start

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange 57 - North Carolina Tarheels - 45

After a slow start, Syracuse utterly dominated North Carolina to become the first top 25 team to win against UNC this season. C.J. Fair lead the way for the Orange offensely and the 2-3 Zone did the rest, silencing a possibly decent Tarheel offensive attack.

Syracuse continues to win with the same game plan against every team, daring opponents to figure out a way to consistently score against the zone defense. This game was bigger than most, in front of 32,000 fans and featuring ESPN's top notch coverage.

*Winning Fairly Easy*

CJ Fair continues to be the driving force behind this dangerous Orange team, especially on the offensive end. CJ saw all 40 minutes, ending with 20 points, 8 rebounds, an assist, steal and two blocks. The offense runs through CJ, and the best possessions are always when he gets quality touches. Fair is starting to consistently make the NBA plays, including contested jumpers and drawing fouls to jumpstart the offense.

Jerami Grant is becoming the Robin to CJ's Batman, providing that secondary layer needed along the front line. Jerami had 12 points to go along with his season high 12 rebounds, and added 2 blocks as well. Jerami provides a great energy option, but is still working on finding the consistency that he'll need to make the jump. Grant hit a few solid jumpers in needed spots, and adds a lot of physicality on defense.

CJ And Jerami had a little trouble holding on to the ball, with CJ adding 4 turnovers and Jerami being the full cause for at least 2 of Tyler Ennis's. This is the risk of giving Forwards multiple touches on offense, but they need to tighten things up to run away with the ACC.

*Guard Duty*

Tyler Ennis threw in 10 points as he led the offense with his calm approach, adding 7 assists. He was credited with an unusually high 4 turnovers, but 2 of those were passes to Jerami that he let slip through his hands. Trevor Cooney somehow got to 10 points again, as he continues to have trouble finding his pre-2014 shooting stroke, going 2-12 from three and missing an easy lay-up. However, Cooney did have 5 steals and was very aggressive on defense.

Michael Gbinije came in during the first half and was a major factor in allowing the Orange to pull away from the Tarheels after falling behind early. His tight defense at the top of the key was supplemented by a great looking three pointer in a game where they needed an outside shot. Silent G didn't see any minutes in the second half, and I'm not quite sure why, as Cooney had a rough day today.

*Big Impact*

Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita only combined for 2 points, but played very strong defense, not allowing many easy buckets. Christmas finished with 4 blocks, and was forced to play the most minutes as Keita had 4 fouls in only 10 minutes. However, there was no drop-off in production, as they both played very solid defensively.

Boeheim played 7 players, and the bench only saw 20 total minutes. No Three Brothers and no Dajuan, even in what was basically a blowout.

*Other Juice*

Syracuse held the edge in almost every statistical category, including the normal turnover lead (14-10) even after a sloppy first half. The two most important stats were Syracuse's 17 offensive rebounds keeping possessions alive, and 11-15 from the free throw line vs North Carolina's abysmal 3-9 from the line.

Believe it or not, Dick Vitale thought this game was awesome. It felt good to have the reliable and knowledgable ESPN coverage back after getting a taste of ACC network coverage.

The 32,000 fans were terrific, adding a lot of noise, energy and excitement to this match-up. Students even found their way back early from break to put on a great show for ESPN.

This was a great win for the Orange, but to be honest, North Carolina looked terrible. The final score should have been closer to 65-38, as we let off the gas at the end of the game.

We turn around and face a poor Boston College team in Boston on Monday ahead of our first matchup vs Pitt this Sunday.

Syracuse moves to 16-0 to become one of the 5 final undefeated teams remaining. Until next time fellow Juicers, Let's! Go! S! U!

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