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Syracuse 72, North Carolina 70: Orange survive late Tar Heel push

Syracuse handled North Carolina at home to move to 14-8 on the season and 8-7 in ACC play.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team survived a late rally by the North Carolina Tar Heels to win 72-70 on Monday night. The Orange improved to 12-1 inside the Carrier Dome this season.

Syracuse once again started off slow as the Orange missed its first five shots from deep. North Carolina worked the ball inside against the 2-3 zone and led 8-2 at the first media timeout. The Tar Heels owned a 9-1 rebounding advantage and 6-0 points in the paint edge early.

The Syracuse defense picked up after the first pause in action. North Carolina built an 11-2 advantage, but Syracuse responded with an 8-0 run as Jesse Edwards scored inside, Marek Dolezaj completed a three point play and Buddy Boeheim knocked down a corner three.

As the first half went on North Carolina continued to add to its rebounding edge, shuffling in its four bigs. Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks got their offense going as Carolina worked the high-low, but Edwards provided solid relief at center. He scored two points, grabbed five important rebounds and recorded a block and a steal (along with a turnover) in the first half before picking up his third foul.

Still, Carolina wouldn’t be mitigated in the paint. Syracuse was able to stay competitive by knocking down threes. Boeheim followed up with another triple and Guerrier hit two threes, his second got Syracuse to within three at 26-23. Bacot scored on an out of bounds underneath lob to make it 28-23 at the 3:22 mark.

Then Boeheim got hot.

Syracuse ended the half on an 11-0 run, authorized by three threes from Boeheim and a Dolezaj layup. Boeheim broke 1,000 points on his career, passing Frank Howard for No. 64 on Syracuse’s all-time list.

North Carolina out-rebounded Syracuse 29-14 in the first half and had a 22-10 points in the paint advantage. Syracuse shot 7-17 from beyond the arc while UNC shot 0-9. The Orange took a 34-28 lead into the break.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Out of the break, Kadary Richmond started in place of Girard at point. The second half started similar to the first. North Carolina quickly erased the deficit and jumped out to a 36-35 lead. But Syracuse responded with a 13-2 run to make the 48-38. Guerrier has struggled as the season has worn on but he found a bit of rhythm through that stretch run with a pair of buckets.

For the second game in a row, Dolezaj found himself in foul trouble. He picked up his fourth foul at the 10:14 mark. Edwards picked up his fourth shortly thereafter and eventually fouled out but Dolezaj never picked up his fifth.

North Carolina switched defenders on Boeheim in the second half. He was guarded more heavily, particularly by Leaky Black, as UNC forced him off the three point line. As such, Boeheim began to work off the dribble. He hit a pull up two. Then he was fouled and threw up a prayer that found the bottom of the net. He made a free throw to give him 26 points.

Syracuse had a double-digit cushion throughout most of the second half. When UNC pushed to within single digits, Syracuse responded. When Carolina cut it to eight, Edwards flushed a dunk to make it 57-47.

Guerrier then had back-to-back buckets to make it 61-48 as Richmond found him on various occasions. Richmond played the lion’s share of the point guard minutes in the second half. He turned it over four times, but handled the North Carolina press and found open teammates. He had nine assists to those four turnovers. Richmond limped off the court at the 3:51 mark and Girard checked back in. He wouldn’t come back into the game.

Down by as much as 11 with under four minutes to play, North Carolina cut Syracuse’s lead to two with 19 second left, but Girard made a free throw and Syracuse fouled on the next play. North Carolina went 1-2 from the line and fouled Girard again, who made one of two free throws.

A Brooks bucket at the buzzer went in to make it 72-70, but Syracuse closed out the game to move to 14-8 and 8-7 in ACC play.


Buddy Boeheim led the way for Syracuse with 26 points on 6-13 outside shooting. Quincy Guerrier had 18 points and 6 rebounds. Jesse Edwards finished with 6 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals before fouling out.

North Carolina won the rebounding battle 53-33. Syracuse shot 8-27 from outside while UNC was 4-20.

Next up

Syracuse returns home on Wednesday to host Clemson. That game tips at 5 p.m. and airs on the ACCN.