It's been over a month since Jim Boeheim walked out of the Carrier Dome tunnel and onward to the sideline his own court. The hall of fame head coach has been going stir crazy over the last thirty days -- he's been watch the Food Network, catching up on movies and trying to mitigate the pain that's associated with being exiled from your program that you've been a part of for over half a century.
This time was different. Sometimes these things serve as a reminder. It's a reminder of all Boeheim has done for this program, a remembrance of what he's meant to the basketball program and the city's identity. This time, Boeheim was given a standing ovation as he walked onto his court for the first time since December 2nd when his Syracuse Orange squad fell to Wisconsin and gave up 51 rebounds.
His Syracuse squad came out playing spirited basketball. The Orange not only hung with the sixth best team in the nation, they out-rebounded and out-shot them in the first half. If not for a late first half turnover, Syracuse would have went into the half with a lead. It was the best the team has looked since playing in the Bahamas.
Trevor Cooney got hot and stayed hot throughout the contest. He made some contested shots from well beyond three point range and incredibly tough step back jumpers.
Syracuse fought back and forth with North Carolina. Cooney and Malachi Richardson did most of the damage on the offensive end. They kept Syracuse in the game for much of the contest combining for 43 of Syracuse's 73 points.
Ultimately it wasn't enough to earn a victory. North Carolina killed Syracuse inside and shot the ball well enough to keep Syracuse at bay. The Orange were plagued with the same issues in this game as the previous three ACC games. They struggled down the stretch, but this game offered promise. Syracuse was able to hang with the best in the conference. Boeheim's return was bittersweet but the CEO is back at the helm and Syracuse looks to push back in the ACC.