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North Carolina 81, Syracuse 75: Orange fall to Tar Heels, out-rebounded on road

Syracuse moves to 7-3 on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team remained winless all-time against North Carolina on the road. On Tuesday night, Syracuse fell to North Carolina by a final score of 81-75 inside the Dean Smith Center as the Tar Heels out-rebounded the Orange 48-31.

Despite making the road trip, senior center Bourama Sidibe did not play in the loss.

In the early going, Buddy Boeheim got things started with eight quick points on two made 3s for Syracuse. North Carolina big man Garrison Brooks, the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, established himself inside and around the paint. He matched Boehiem’s with eight of his own. The Tar Heels drew two quick fouls on senior Marek Dolezaj, who was supplanted by sophomore center Jesse Edwards just four minutes in. Robert Braswell also made an early substitution for Alan Griffin.

As the half went on, North Carolina jumped out to a double digit lead, working the ball inside against the 2-3 zone. The Tar Heel bigs worked the high-low for easy shots around the rim against a smaller Syracuse frontline to the tune of 20 first half points in the paint.

With Syracuse trailing by ten at the under four minute media timeout, the Orange utilized a 14-4 run to end the half. Quincy Guerrier scored inside and Boeheim connected on back to back 3s along with a mid-range jumper to tie the game. Brooks and Guerrier traded buckets to make it 40-40 at the break, but not before a big Guerrier rejection on Brooks just prior to the horn.

Boeheim had 18 points at the intermission. North Carolina led the rebounding battle 22-13.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The second half saw a series of runs throughout.

North Carolina jumped out to a quick 9-0 run which forced Jim Boeheim to call a timeout without waiting for the under 16-minute media break. Syracuse responded right away as Alan Griffin and Joe Girard connected on back to back 3s as part of a 10-0 run to give the Orange the lead. Notably, Guerrier found a groove in the second, blocking shots, finishing around the rim and even stepping out for a three.

North Carolina fought back to regain the lead, however, as R.J. Davis made a few key plays. He buried a triple and stole the ball from Girard, who grabbed Davis and was whistled for a flagrant one. Day’Ron Sharpe then solidified himself down low and pushed UNC toward a 13-0 run.

Both teams fought back and forth down the stretch. With just over four minutes to play, a Kadary Richmond steal and score cut into North Carolina’s lead 67-66. Two Guerrier free throws gave SU a brief lead. But the Tar Heel bigs turned the game back in North Carolina’s favor and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way, ultimately edging Syracuse for an 81-75 victory.

Guerrier led the way for Syracuse with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Boeheim scored 18 points on 4-9 shooting from deep, all in the first half. Griffin scored 16 and grabbed seven rebounds.

North Carolina won the battle of the boards 48-31. The Tar Heels had 42 points in the paint to Syracuse’s 24.

Next up

Syracuse hits the road for a return game against Pittsburgh. That game tips at noon on Saturday inside the Petersen Events Cetner.